How i ended up spending Mother's Day at Yankee Stadium, I'll never know. Well, that's not exactly true. I was the one who bought the tickets weeks ago, fully aware of what day it was.
Partly it was the fact that Yankee management, in its infinite wisdom, had designated May 9 as Beanie Baby Day. Although we are now four years into the Beanie Baby craze, my kids show no sign of losing interest. Partly it was the synchronicity of the two events - baseball and Mother's Day (and don't forget the Beanie Babies). I am the daughter of a man who once gave his mother a baseball mitt for Mother's Day, a man who had season tickets to the Los Angeles Dodgers for most of the 1960s. I am the girl who wore a Dodgers' No. 8, John Roseboro uniform to every Dodger game I attended, at least until I outgrew it. I am both my father's daughter and my children's mother. But most of all I am a lover of baseball games.
I am not athletic by any stretch of the most benevolent imagination. But I love the ballet of baseball, the way the game works. It's so pastoral, so theatrical: It's a lot like life. Not much happens, and then all at once - wow! -there's a line drive, a boggled ball, a stolen base, a tag at the plate. Intensity in high relief to the dreamlike state the game pretends to be.
But through it all is this pulse of attention and focus that locks teammates together, even though they seem randomly scattered across a field. Which makes a baseball team more than a little bit like a family. They seem disconnected until they're called upon to pull together. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't. When it works, it's a beautiful thing to behold. When it doesn't, you want to look the other way. As I said, just like families.
I LOVE THE baseball uniforms, the way they seem like business suits for clowns. I love the seventh-inning stretch, the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," which was supplanted on Mother's Day by the singing of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."
This was a very bad idea. For one thing, who the heck knows the words to "Let Me Call You Sweetheart"? Yes, I do happen to know them, but I am cursed with a jukebox for a brain.
The rest of the fans swayed nervously to the music and tried to mumble along. The other mothers shook their heads in disbelief. We came to sing, they seemed to say, not to be serenaded. We were a crackerjack bunch of mothers out there in the Bronx. We weren't throwing our day away for peanuts. We weren't a bunch of hot dogs. We were doing that thing that mothers do best: being there for others. And having a good time ourselves.
There is a sci-fi view of Mother's Day, portrayed mostly on TV, of women I call "adulation moms." In this conspicuous-consumption scenario, we are off at a Sunday brunch with the nervous-necktie crowd, insisting on endless orange-juice toasts in our honor. Or sometimes we're "it's about me" moms, drumming our lacquered nails impatiently, looking for the next present to unwrap and it had better not be some handmade card or art-class pottery monstrosity.
Those moms don't exist. They belong to the infantile imagination of an ad campaign. They were not attending Beanie Baby Day at Yankee Stadium, and it's a good thing. We baseball moms would have thrown them out for giving the rest of us a bad name.
Women like me who were idiotic enough to spend Mother's Day with 49,000 people on a gorgeous May day with the Yankees winning, 6-1, knew they were the real winners. We were with our families, the people who made us mothers, and life was glorious. That, the free Beanie Babies, and, as I said before, the Yankees winning, 6-1.
But the best part of the game (and my kids agree with me on this, although I'm pretty sure my husband doesn't), was not Derek Jeter's two-run homer, as beautiful as that was. It was the grounds crew. They dragged the field before the start of the sixth inning to the tune of "YMCA," by the Village People, and danced in time to the music as they did their otherwise boring but important job. That made me think of mothers again, doing boring but important jobs. We're the family field sweepers, but there's no law that says we can't do a little dance while we're at it.
And that's what Mother's Day at Yankee stadium meant to me. It was my little dance.