Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Charlie's ATV-60 Odyssey

Where does a non-writing procrastinator begin to describe a summer of baseball? I guess I need to go back to the beginning where a friend, Jay Hafner, and his family hooked us on going to Rebels games. That came at a time when our family was ending our previous annual summer experience of the Shenandoah County Swim League, which we also shared with the Hafners. We just can not get away from those people! Both endeavors were great positive family experiences that I will always be thankful for. I guess it is sometimes sad to log these thoughts because it reminds me of the passing of my time with my children. This summer, while busy, as my wife Melissa described in her entry, has gone by so fast.

As I write this I still believe the Rebels have a mathematical chance to make the playoffs and extend my summer of baseball. However with each passing loss (many by one run) the math is starting to add up against it. I do not need to ask the math master of the house, Mike Mooney, what our chances are. He is, as my wife calls him, our ‘summer son’ and will soon be heading back to his family in Florida. Hopefully he will be taking with him some fond memories that he has left our family with.

I could go on and on about the friends I have made through the years because of the Valley League and the Rebels. I guess much of that continues to grow each year as we re-acquaint ourselves with everyone from the summer before. Front Row Fred, The Guys on the internet broadcast team: Dallas, & Tony Mowatt, the Croquet gang at the Lanham’s resort as well as having an opportunity to meet new players, parents, and their families along the way.

I suppose I should get to this year now. Jerry Carter had this idea and I somehow got sucked into it as well. Going to all the ballparks in one summer. I had always wanted to visit each one and now I had no excuse not to do it. I was a little late getting on the bandwagon as I believed I would do it next year (procrastinator that I can be) then once I realized that this could be a one year thing I was committed.

Each ball park as everyone has stated is unique and wonderful in its own way. For me the one constant was always checking out the concession stands only to find C.B Alger in my stadium chair when I returned. I think that became a ritual of his. I always let on that is irritated me much more than it really did. I must foremost commend my wife Melissa for getting me so involved. I must also mention her for ringing that cow bell and believing the team can come back even when they are down by 10 runs in the 9th, as they were last night. Even the always loyal Rebels fan Kay gave her the “are you kidding?” look. Melissa is truly from the Yogi Berra cut (it ain’t over till its over).

My daughter, Hannah, upon returning from France has become somewhat of a food snob. While she attends Rebels games with us she is more agreeable when I tell her we are going to eat at a nice place on the way. We always go to a German restaurant on our way to Covington (The Edelweiss). On our way to Staunton last night we discovered another treasure, The Depot Grille, in the old downtown area. My son Noah has been to many more games than I and thankfully for Melissa he is always eager to go. He plays with C.B. and Trey Alger and any other friends that may be at the game. At home games he goes out and plays ball after the game in right or left field until we make him go home. Those moments are sadly almost gone for this year.

I would like to thank Jerry again for the opportunity to put off my procrastination , to read other heartfelt stories like that of Buck Smith and his son, Jacob, and to see my wife shed a tear as she wrote her story of the summer . This has been one great and memorable summer of baseball. While the Rebels may not have won as many games as we would have liked I have started to learn that it does not matter how many games we win. That by just planning to go to a game, traveling there as a family or with friends like the Barbs we have won so much more. We have lived in the moment and realized the uniting force of baseball. Jerry once again thanks to you and your family and I, more than ever, cannot wait till next year.

-Charlie “Charity” Dodge
(as christened by C.B. Alger)

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