by Susan Povinelli
Sue and Larry Povinelli with daughters Stephanie and Michele.
From the Editor: The following article was published in the summer, 2000, edition of the NFB Vigilant, a publication of the NFB of Virginia. Susan and Larry Povinelli are long-time Federationists and leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia. They are the blind parents of two delightful sighted daughters. They see to it that their children lead busy, exciting lives. Here is Sue's story about their trip to the old ball game:
It was a typical June day. The weather was hot and sticky. We could hear the thunder rumbling in the distance and knew a thunderstorm was about to hit. The weatherman had predicted that a storm would come through and cool the temperature. It was about 6:30 p.m. when we arrived at the Prince William County Stadium to watch the Cannons, the AA farm team of the St. Louis Cardinals. My girls had earned four free tickets for a Potomac Cannons baseball game by making their school's honor roll.
The Prince William County Stadium is very small. It has a standard-size diamond, and the bleachers are right near the field. We heard the players talking while they warmed up for the game. The bullpen was directly in front of us.
Before the game got underway, the storm hit, and we took refuge under the lean-to housing the concession stand. We ate hot dogs until the storm passed. Nothing smells as good or tastes as great as a hot dog or a hamburger cooked over a charcoal grill and eaten at the baseball park. When the rain let up, we returned to our front row bleacher seats right behind the Cannons' bull pen. Then it started to rain again, so we put up our umbrellas or hid under the bleachers until it stopped. It was pleasant sitting there listening to old rock and roll music and talking with friends. The rain stopped about 7:30, after delaying the game for half an hour.
We watched the ground crew roll up the tarp which covered the infield. They first pulled it to the left and drained the water, then pulled it to the right and folded it like a burrito, rolling it on a huge tube. Now it was time to play ball.
It was great. We could hear and see the players. My children could read the number and position on each player's jersey, which they cannot do when we attend a professional game because our seats are too far from the field. I never realized that the players wore initials designating their position on their jerseys: CF for center fielder and SS for short stop.
Once the game got started, the batter was announced over the public address system. The pitch was thrown. The umpire yelled strike or ball. When the batter hit the ball, we could hear the baseball whiz through the air and smack into the outfielder's glove. The batter was out. It was thrilling to hear the crack of the bat, the sounds of the ball, and the ump calling balls and strikes.
Occasionally the batter hit a foul ball into the bleachers on the third base side. I could hear it bounce off the seats and the children run after it. It is every fan's dream to catch a foul ball. In the sixth or seventh inning a foul ball hit the bleachers next to ours. My girls and the other two children sitting next to us rushed over to that section. Michelle scrambled onto the bleachers. Stephanie, realizing that the ball had fallen through the bleachers, rushed underneath and retrieved it. My girls brought that ball home. Michelle has always hoped and dreamed of bringing a ball home. That experience is one she will remember for the rest of her life.
It was great hearing all this activity. Another advantage of the small ballpark is the close proximity to the players. After the Cannons' relief pitcher and catcher had warmed up, they were sitting on the bench in the bullpen in front of us. A little girl who also received tickets for being on her school's honor roll, started a conversation with the catcher. This same catcher signed my girls' baseball after the game.
It may seem like a very minor thing to attend a baseball game on a cool June night and watch the game under the lights, but for many kids, blind or sighted, it is a real treat. It is the small dreams of catching a baseball or making a play that make our lives enjoyable and memorable. Many people would assume that a blind person could not gain any pleasure from such events, but we do. We enjoy the sounds of the crack of the bat as the batter hits a home run and the crowd roaring as he rounds the bases. We enjoy the smells and the taste of a charcoal-grilled hamburger smothered with mustard and onions. And we enjoy the sights described by our friends and family. So if you get a chance to enjoy an AA-league game, do it.