Better than the Monday paper: Who wants to go to the ballpark this season?

February 14, 2011 | Drew Forrester

Valentine’s Day seems appropriate to break the news about a great activity I’m putting together for Baltimore baseball fans.

That, and pitchers and catchers report today in Sarasota.

It’s a perfect storm of sorts for those of us who love baseball in Baltimore and want to share it with the people nearest and dearest to our hearts — and that, of course, would be our children.

In partnership with John Carroll School in Bel Air, I’ll be sending people to baseball games all season long and doing my best to create that memorable feeling for parents and children who attend a baseball game together.

Starting with the home opener on April 4, I’ll be asking for two of you to attend EVERY home game in 2011.  And it’s on me. And John Carroll School.  ”On me” means free, by the way.  I’ll provide the tickets, you provide the two butts in the seats.

But wait, there’s a catch.

You knew there would be, right?

After all, I can’t just give you two tickets to go a baseball game without getting something from you on the back end.

Here’s the catch:  You have to take your child with you.  And then I need a “report” from your son or daughter on their day at the ballpark.

It doesn’t need to be as long as Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged or anything like that, but I hope it serves as a “homework assignment” of sorts where the boy or girl sits down and gives serious thought to their day at the ballpark with mom or dad and how much fun it is to attend a baseball game.

Along with the fine folks at John Carroll School, I’ll review all of those “reports” and award a year-ending prize for the best story of 2011.

Despite the dwindling attendance at Camden Yards over the last five years and the disconnect between the team and the community over that time, there’s still one undeniable fact about baseball:  It’s the best parent-child sports experience God ever created if you get the right game, the right day, the right amount of sunshine, an autograph, a baseball tossed to you, a fist-bump from the mascot and some cotton candy.

I took 2-year old Ethan to opening day last year — a semi-raw, overcast afternoon — and have pledged to take him for as long as I can or until he says “Dad, I’m 33 now and I have a real job and I can’t go with you today.”  Watching him last April, in his Nick Markakis t-shirt, exchanging a hand-slap with the Bird and returning to his seat with the widest grin he could produce made my day.  It made Mike Gonzalez blowing the game in the 9th inning an afterthought.

And that’s what baseball should do for all of us.  The final score almost doesn’t matter unless the game is on September 20 and the result actually counts for something (and in Baltimore, we haven’t had one of those since 1997, so EVERY game is more about the joy of going and less about who who-won-or-lost).

Attending a baseball game with your child is a must-do every year.

I’m looking for 81 moms, dads, sons and daughters to attend each and every home game in 2011.  The tickets are on me.  I own them.  But you can have them.  As long as you’re willing to follow through and make sure your son and daughter write (or e-mail…it is, after all, 2011) a report or a review of their day/night, you can attend the game compliments of me and John Carroll School.

I’ll be taking Ethan to games as well and maybe we’ll all meet up for a hot dog and a soda in the left field seats.

The day pitchers and catchers report and break a sweat always reminds us that spring is right around the corner, even when there’s snow on the ground like we see right now in Baltimore.  And when spring comes, so does baseball.  And when there’s baseball, there’s fun and there’s the chance for parents and their children to create a memorable experience through the magic of three hours at the ballpark.

I’m taking applications now if you’d like to be part of the “Baseball and Family” experience.  All you need to do is e-mail me (drew@wnst.net) and let me know you’d like to be included and I’ll send you information on dates/times, etc. and we’ll figure out together which game you’ll be attending in 2011.

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