Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Bellingham Bells

Sarah asks me last week if I want to do an overnighter in Bellingham and get back before I work on Sunday. Great idea! So we headed out on Friday to visit our son who is not coming home for the summer from WWU.

Bellingham is a good six hour drive from Spokane, and when there are two of you making the trip and sharing the driving duties, it's not bad. I have done the solo Bellingham and back trip. Not as much fun.

We got into town a little before noon and then headed over to visit Ike and his girlfriend Kalli where they were working at a Bellingham Bells baseball game. I am probably not the biggest fan of baseball. Yet, I had one of the best times at this game.

Bellingham was playing the Cowlitz Black Bears. Entering the gate, we encountered a ticket taker who wanted to get the attention of some media people there, so we arranged for this photobomb.

Who/what is the Bell's mascot? Why "Dinger" the Belling Hamster, of course. The fellow handing out the programs was a retired Bellingham firefighter, and it's always great to make that connection and talk fire stuff.

We bought our bratwursts from Ike (actually you buy the buns and then take the buns over to the grilling dude and he completes the transaction).

The brats are huge and locally made. Another Western student was there to show us to our seats in the stands. The stadium is probably half the size of the Spokane Indians Ballpark. They had a little problem with three seagulls that had made their way in through a hole in the netting that covered the grandstand. The seagulls were unable to make their way out. Our usher and others were looking for a way to set them free. Sarah suggested putting one of the aforementioned buns by the hole in the net and they might figure it out. This attracted one more seagull.

Before the game started I went to the beer stand. $5 pints of locally-brewed Boundary Bay beer. On Tuesdays beer is $2. Wow. Great beer.

A young man, who was in the process of learning how to play the electric guitar, did his version of Jimi's Star-Spangled Banner. Then the owner came out to the field. He let everyone know that today was the guitar player's birthday and that the kid was named after Lou Gehrig, and coincidentally (or not) today was the anniversary of the day that Lou Gehrig retired from baseball because of the ravages of the disease ALS. He then introduced a man sitting on a stool between home and the mound. This was a friend of his, a man who he had gone to Stanford with and who was also a very successful businessman. This friend had ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease. When this man spoke he told a story of how he came to the USA as a young boy and was grateful for his education and the success that America provided him. He also said that what he wanted more than anything was to eradicate ALS so Lou Gehrig would be remembered only for being a fantastic baseball player, not for a disease. He threw out the opening pitch, but the pitch was not to his liking, so he threw it again - this time right over the plate.

Maybe it was because he looked like a friend of mine who died from ALS, maybe it was seeing my son whom I hadn't seen in months, maybe it was the beer. For whatever reason, I really got choked up. Very moving.

In the meantime, the seagulls were bouncing off the nets behind home plate. Each time one was hustled out, the fans erupted in cheers. This cheering often occurred at a bad time for the Bellingham team, which made them all swivel their heads to the stands at each outburst - "Has the entire home stadium turned against us?" Kalli got the last one out, right at the hole with the hotdog bun stuck in the netting. And the fans went crazy!

The best baseball game ever. Bellingham won and has continued to win. I think a baseball game needs a moving story from the diamond and drama in the stands to make it great. Cheap local beer and big brats doesn't hurt either.

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