Birthdays and baseball

One of my favorite jokes is that while I’ve always known my wife is smarter than me, she clinched it by making sure she spent her 40th birthday in New Orleans, while four months later, I spent mine at work.

This year, we spent her birthday at “Hamilton” in London, and while I did have to work on my birthday yesterday, I decided I also wanted to do something fun.

I wanted to go to a baseball game.

Manchester, New Hampshire, will never be confused with New Orleans or London, but it’s an hour’s drive from my house, and I like the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ ballpark, Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

I even got my first ball there.

Plus the Fisher Cats have Vladimir Guerrero Jr. It’s not every day that you go to a minor-league game with hopes of seeing a specific player, but it’s also not every day that a 19-year-old son of a Hall-of-Famer is laying waste to the Eastern League to the point where people are asking why he’s not already in the majors.

At 19.

It’s also not every day that said 19-year-old already has an epic walk-off homer … in a spring training game.

He didn’t do much last night against the Portland Sea Dogs — 0-4, although he drilled a fan with a foul liner (the fan seemed OK) — but now that I’ve seen Vlad Junior, the Blue Jays can do whatever they want as far as I’m concerned: promote him to AAA, call him up to the big club, trade him to the Yankees for Jacoby Ellsbury.

Whatever.

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You see all kinds of fans at baseball games.

In front of us were three young guys who started the night by yelling at Portland’s third baseman that his back pockets were sticking out. He put them in as casually as he could, trying to play it off that it wasn’t because he could hear them.

Near where the rail and the Sea Dogs’ dugout met, a group of kids would gather after  the Fisher Cats were retired and try to get whichever player had the ball for the last out to throw it to them.

And right in front of us was a senior citizen who not only brought his glove to the game, but wore it, index finger out and everything.

Which I thought was pretty damn cool.

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One of my best friends wrote on Facebook yesterday that she thought my birthday was today.

For a moment, I thought she had lost her mind, since she has been one of my best friends for decades, but then I remembered.

When she and her husband first started dating while we were in high school, I asked when his birthday was. She said it was a week before mine, but when I replied that it was therefore May 23, she got a panicked look on her face.

His birthday is actually May 24; she thought my birthday was May 31.

Sure, he was her boyfriend, but I was her friend first! I spent many of the years since then jabbing at her about it this time of year, but had mostly forgotten about it until yesterday.

I’m the type who responds individually to each Facebook message wishing me a happy birthday, instead of a blanket “Thanks for all the birthday wishes” post. Even though I know a lot of them are just because Facebook notified them it’s my birthday (because that’s what causes me to send most of mine), I still like the attention.

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The between-innings entertainment was the type you’ll find at any minor-league ballpark, plus staples such as the LifeStorage Box Shuffle — the Fisher Cats’ version of trying to follow which of the shuffling containers holds whatever the magic object is.

I normally dominate this game, but got it wrong at Yankee Stadium earlier this month because I blinked. I got it right last night, though, although my wife wondered why they congratulated the people who got it right.

”What do you win?”

”A box with random s—- in it” was the best I could do.

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My father-in-law originally thought I had the same birthday as Pedro Martinez, but he doesn’t.

However, he had the right team, as Manny Ramirez also had a birthday yesterday. You can guess how much I, as a Yankees fan, love that.

It’s not all bad, though. Idina Menzel and Jake “The Snake” Roberts both have May 30 birthdays (and yes, I chose those two just for the opportunity to put them in the same sentence).

But more importantly, May 30 is also Steven Gerrard’s birthday, which pretty much makes up for Derek Jeter sharing a birthday with my brother.

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Along with Guerrero and Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette is one of the three sons of big leaguers in the Fisher Cats’ infield.

He also absolutely face-planted sliding headfirst into third right in front of us.

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The Fisher Cats wound up winning 5-3 in about 2 hours and 40 minutes. Get that pitch clock in the majors ASAP!

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As for me, I’m not doing too badly.

Even though I can’t blow off aches and pains like I used to — now, a twinge in my leg is a muscle pull that lasts a month — I feel pretty good physically. Between watching my weight and regular trips to the gym and pickleball, I’m probably in better shape than I have been in years.

I had the fun night I wanted for my birthday, and now it’s time to tackle the next year and see what it brings.

14 thoughts on “Birthdays and baseball

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