An early evening before the ballgame……….


Photo by Vince Kern (c) All Rights Reserved
Orlando Hundson (left) and Eric Hinske spend a moment chatting  after warmups.

……..I found the spirit of the game in watching the Toronto team warm up, stretch and sign autographs for children who still admire ballplayers and adults who never escaped a childhood need just to have an autograph to say, “Hey, I met this guy.”

Baseball is one sound cure for the blues and I should know that by now.

I remembered that it’s not so much the game being played that counts — it’s taking the time to admire the athletic preparation, the skill and the joy that young men posses in their hearts as the ball is batted and tossed around for nine innings or so.

It was a magical night, Wednesday, despite the hometown Detroit Tigers getting a clock cleaning by the Toronto Blue Jays 8-2. Detroit (with about 20 wins and well over 60 losses so far this year) had the unmitigated gall to beat Toronto TWO nights in a row Monday and Tuesday. The evening was magical because the weather was perfect — 76 degrees at gametime with just enough of a breeze to keep things cool — and The Vinman and his wife were sitting behind first base just down from the visitors’ dugout. Having a team with the potential to set the worst record in MLB history has one advantage: These seats were $30 apiece and few people were around us.

Baseball, as it is meant to be enjoyed, demands to be viewed up close and personal rather than in a corporate suite with knuckleheds you see every day at work talking about nothing meaningful all night. On the field music is made by the pop of the leather glove catching a fastball, the plop bank of a runner hitting the bag at full speed and of course the crack of the bat.

The perfect summer weather, coupled with the lack of a crowd also enabled The Vinman to fully christen his new digital camera and revisit his days as a professional photog. More than that, I was after the art of baseball looking to take photos that reflected the spirit of the game and not the technical photos you see in the papers.

And so, tonight I begin a series of pieces on the events at the ballpark last night. Every moment was fun from the warmups to the positive heckling going on around me that I eventually engaged in.

And I can’t wait to write about “Autograph Boy,” the six-year-old shy black kid with a Cincinnati Red’s cap (white shirt, black pants and red hat) who was as enamored by seeing the ballplayers up close as I was and how he got his nickname from The Vinman.

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