Orioles

In two weeks I’m taking Michael to his first game at Camden Yards.

I miss my home stadium, even if Maryland hasn’t been my address for a decade now. I’m spoiled – the good kosher hotdogs, Boog’s BBQ, the seventh inning minion under the stairs, the kids atop the dugout spelling O-R-I-O-L-E-S like it’s Y-M-C-A. Most of the them weren’t even born when the original drunken blue-collar fan started that in old Memorial Stadium, but that’s ok. That’s what baseball is all about – random traditions that mean everything to fans and just look really, really weird to everyone else, which just makes the first bunch feel even more superior. Sports really are like religion.

Which is why Michael and I get such looks when we do baseball. He wear his Yankees shirt, I sport an O’s cap.

When we first started dating, he asked if my parents would mind that his father wasn’t Jewish. Oh, but there’s a bigger issue: he’s a Yankees fan.

He laughed.

I wasn’t kidding.

Growing up, my parents let us skip school for two reasons: Jewish holidays and Orioles tickets.

In Cooperstown last year for the Hall of Fame exhibition game – O’s vs Jays, in honor of Cal – we saw a couple who had maybe 40 years on us. She was Baltimore from the brim of her black and orange hat to her golden necklace charm of a bird and bat. He wore blue pinstripes. We ran up to them,  excused ourselves and asked them the secret of their success. They just smiled the knowing smile of a couple who had worked out the kinks decades ago.
In Yankee Stadium people stop us and ask, “Seriously?,” or “How does that work?,” or my favorite, “How do you put up with him?” My answer: He buys me tickets to all the Orioles games and doesn’t shush me when my guys are up. That’s love.

Now my father, who I only really talk to during baseball season, sends me emails and text messages to pass on to Michael teasing him about Orioles’ wins or New York losses. I guess he’s in. We’ll see how it goes, everyone side by side, popcorn and beer in hand, on my home turf, in our shiny green seats – and Michael in his pinstripes. The boys on the field may not have rings, but the green field and brick wall of my childhood turf always gleam – even with a bit of blue.

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