Black Girls Go to Opening Day?
One sure sign of warmer weather is the return of baseball season. Although here is Cleveland opening day usually means cold and sometimes snowy weather. This week the Indians returned to Progressive Field and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve always been a baseball fan from watching games on TV when the Indians were still at Municipal Stadium to camping out at the airport in ‘95 to welcome the team home from Seattle with the American League trophy. I love baseball.
Now before I talk about the home opener let’s take a pause in what saddens me about going to the games. It’s probably kind of obvious but it needs to be said, there are not a lot of people that look like me at the game. I get it, Black people like basketball. I’ve heard you say, the game is SO slow or boring or it’s “JUST NOT FOR US.”
My counter argument is yes it’s slower but that’s what I like about it. Baseball also doesn’t overload the senses. When I go to the Cavs games I’m hyper focused on what’s happening on the court and during the breaks I’m all about the entertainment or trying to catch a t-shirt. There is no catching up with friends and hearing about the family at the Q. My main focus is watching the game, chanting “LET’S GO CAVS,” trying to catch up with Moondog and cheering my team to victory.
At Progressive Field, especially on warmer days, there is no better thing than to be outside in the sun, watching the game with a cold drink and a hot dog and catching up with friends. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still on the lookout for a wave going around the ballpark, trying to catch up with Slider for a pic or cheering on my favorite hot dog during the race in between innings but at the Indians game I can cheer on my team and enjoy spending time with friends and family simultaneously.
One more thing about baseball and the particularly our Indians. As a team I know that we LOVE our team, in fact as Clevelanders we LOVE all of our teams. We tune in and show up for watch parties when they are in the playoffs or the World Series so I would go out on a limb to say it’s not about the sport of baseball being unentertaining but something else.
Opening day was Monday April 1st and as luck would have it despite having a few warm days the week before and warm day later in the week it was cold. When I was first asked by my friend Jewels if I wanted to go I timidly said sure knowing it would be a longshot to score tickets but was already worried about being out in the cold if she got tickets. Luckily Jewels and opening day veteran had a plan. She would get the general admission tickets, which means no seat just standing in the park to watch the game, and if we got cold we would head inside to the Terrace Club to eat or for drinks.
The game was set to start at 4:10 pm but I already knew that for some, opening day is a Cleveland holiday. People would begin partying early and downtown parking would be a mess…and expensive. I found all of this to be true. Knowing parking would be a mess, I took the bus down from the office and found myself surrounded by a crowd of people walking over to the stadium.
The bars were packed on E.9th with people drinking and celebrating the Indians return on the outside patios with beers in hand (did I mention the temperature was in the high 30s/low 40s?) As I got closer to Progressive Field there were people tailgating in the parking lots (didn’t know that was a thing for Indians games) and folks taking pictures in front of The Land sign in the plaza before going into the park.
What to wear?
This was a tough one. When looking at all of my Cleveland Indians gear most of what I own is summer wear. Ball caps and t-shirts didn’t seem to be the right call on a “brisk” opening day. I also had a lot of older gear with..sigh..Chief Wahoo which I didn’t want to wear after all it’s a new era for Tribe baseball. So the question remained, how do I dress for a Browns game in Indians gear? The answer was in the question, dress for a Browns game, meaning wear lots of layers and gloves. So I settled on my FAVORITE Kenny Lofton pullover over lots of shirts, jeans and boots to help me stay warm. I also brought along a blanket just in case.
Before I go any further, let me preface by saying that I made a goal this year to take a picture with all of the Cleveland mascots so once inside the stadium, I was on a hunt for Slider and the Tribe Hot Dogs. I was also on the lookout for other Black people, although I didn’t expect to see many.
The game was fun, as always. Jewels and I walked around, cheered on our team, ate hot dogs and of course had a beer or two. We also ducked into the Terrace Club a couple of times once the sun shifted and it started to get colder. After a nearly scoreless game the Indians beat the White Sox 5-3.
I’m so glad I went to the home opener, and I would go again if I ever get the chance (tickets are hard to come by). The sun was out which made it easier to forget how cold it was and a little warmer if you could find a spot in the sun. I didn’t catch up with the Hot Dogs but I did get a picture with Slider (yes!!!) and there were…a few…some… other black people at the game, but Jewels and I noticed they were usually mixed in as a solo occurrence amongst a group of white friends.
In closing, I’m super excited that baseball is back and I hope to make it to more games (sponsor us MLB or Cleveland Indians). I would love to see more of us at the game and more of us together at a game. Maybe that’s something I need to work on this summer.
Oh and don’t forget, the MLB All-Star game is happening in Cleveland this summer so there will be lots to see and do downtown. I definitely hope to see more of you at the festivities.