“You have to contact us in advance, we can’t give out Media Passes to just anyone” the guy said this to me from behind the security glass at the Will Call window. He was showing the intern how to handle a situation firmly and with an air of authority. I had now become annoyed and the young woman had already given me a Media Pass. I could have taken it but it didn’t have my name on it and she looked uncomfortable. I looked at the guy, gave him my best “whatever you little prick” look and said, “I understand”. I walked away saying, “asshole”, to no one in particular. I text Roger. He sends me the email from the week before they didn’t respond to. So, back to the Will Call window again to show the “little prick” I had contacted them in advance. His boss sends me to the Administration Offices and I ask for the guy that didn’t respond. The intern in reception makes a couple of calls, then tells me that ‘my guy’ is busy, but another guy is coming to talk to me.
This big guy walks out. When I say ‘big’, think “bouncer” big. “I am Rick Medeiros, Director of Security, what can I help you with”, he says. “Are you throwing me out of here?” I asked, kinda nervous now. My “I am the Baseball Buddha” arrogance was fading fast. Rick was disarmingly polite and he explained that I can’t get a Media Pass even though I requested one in time. He explained there was not enough time to look into my website, and further stated, “You can’t be too careful now-a-days.” Rick tells me that he would get me a ticket; and, if I need access to anything to let him know when I am at the game. I felt it was a win. Rick made me feel welcome. “Pick the ticket up at Will Call, should be there by 4:30.” It is 2:30 p.m. and I now have two hours to kill. I like to write in the Press Box before the games; but, today I can’t. I see a Mobile Blood Center in the Paw Sox parking lot, so I decide to donate some blood.
“Do you know what a Bubbler is?” asks the nurse as she pricks my finger to test my blood. I look at her with a “Of course I know what a bubbler is” expression. “I do”, I said, “I am from Wisconsin”… We had been talking about Rhode Islandism’s, I figured she was switching to Wisconsinism’s. “It is a water fountain” I said proudly. “YES”, she exclaims and smiles broadly. I was confused as she was. I told her in Wisconsin we call it that. She said, “In Rhode Island, that’s what we call it.” She tells everyone on the bus when they are sticking me with the needle and taking my blood. Everyone feels good about being from Rhode Island and Wisconsin; now, we are connected in a very small way.
The door opens and a couple of ladies walk in with four kids. One kid says he doesn’t like seeing blood. I tell him, “It isn’t that bad.” His Mom tells me about his sister Kiley, who she is holding, who has Leukemia. The Blood Drive is in Kiley’s honor. My demeanor changes. Kiley, her mom, Sandra and I take a selfie. Kiley is three years old and she is throwing out the first pitch at the game. I instantly think of my daughter Sami. I try to imagine what Kiley’s family has gone through. I ask Sandra if I can talk to her when the game starts and she agrees. ALS, Cerebral Palsy and now Leukemia I think after they leave, I am getting an education.
I walk around the stadium after I pick up my ticket. I don’t want to like this venue; but, I am open to liking it after I spoke to Rick. I think of Kiley, and think to myself, “Get your ego in check. You are living a charmed life at the moment”. I see smiles on peoples faces, the place is filling up. The Paw Sox are a big part of the community and the ushers are very pleasant . The stadium is old but remodeled and I really like what they have done. People are hanging things over the railing into the dugouts for players to sign. I must admit, I have never seen that before. But, what a great tradition. I read about the history of the place, the longest game ever played happened here in 1981. I let go of the minor blow to the ego and the sternness of the “little prick”.
I sent a text to Sandra as I watch Kiley throw out the first pitch. Sandra texts me back and go to meet up with her, and her family, sitting under the Press Box behind home plate. She tells me how traumatic it is to hear your child has Leukemia. She wants to fix it, but doesn’t know how. Friends ask what they can do for Kiley who needs tons of blood products. Therefore, the many blood drives in Kiley’s honor. Sandra is smiling and she tells me about how the Paw Sox have a night when families can camp in the outfield. The movie “Angels in the Outfield” is shown on the big screen, and all one sees is a “sea of tents” and “they have coffee waiting in the morning”, she tells me. All for free. I concede to myself that it was all me and my arrogance, my first impression was wrong. I thank Sandra for sharing her stories. She tells me, “Kiley will survive. All of the Leukemia is gone; but, she still has another year of preventive treatment.” I think of Mike, my brother-in-law, and thank him in my head. He has donated every eight weeks for decades.
I walk around the entire park I talk to Vinny and Keith Morris, who grew up across the street from McCoy Stadium. The two of them tell me stories about being a kid and playing ball in the parking lot and in the streets. They used to collect practice home run balls. If you turned them in you could get a ticket for that night’s game. They spent their entire childhood here. The place has history and I want to come back sometime. I am glad I was wrong. Thank you Pawtucket Red Sox, you were a lot more forgiving than I was initially. You have a great stadium, wonderful history and beautiful fans. Baseball is happiness…