Baseball opening day in our house is a major holiday. For opening day of the Major League season we decorate with baseball themed decorations, we eat brats and nachos, and we give our daughter opening day presents, all baseball related with a new item of clothing to support our favorite team. We get to watch MLB baseball on television and sometimes we sneak in for an early game either to see the Brewers or White Sox before we even have the chance to head to our hometown stadium, NelsonCorp Field, home of our Clinton Lumberkings. We wait and anticipate opening day for months. Each year we purchase our season tickets for our team here in Clinton and we stop by the stadium to say hey to the staff and feel the buzz of the beginning of the season to grab our tickets.
Last year was no different but the summer of 2019 went down in my book as one of the best baseball years of my life. We attended so many baseball games and made so many memories with friends and family.
The season started off with my husband and I sending our only daughter off to basic training and for 10 weeks we had little to no contact with her. While she was at basic training I sent her lots of photos from the ballpark through a super cool app on my phone called SANDBOXX!!!
In that same month we were asked to host a Lumberking baseball player. We had never hosted a player before but had thought of it often. It was Mother’s Day weekend. The team had just returned from a game in Bowling Green and there was a new pitcher who joined the team. I received a message from my neighbor Carolyn asking if we would consider hosting a player. She and her husband were hosting two players already and did not have room for a third. My husband and I decided immediately that it would be something fun and a good distraction from our daughter at basic training.
A few weeks later we welcomed a second player into our home. For my husband to have two young men in our house to talk baseball with was quite a fun thing to witness. You see, we have one daughter and while she and I LOVE baseball and know a ton about the game, it is not the same as sitting with two professional baseball players shooting the breeze and sharing opinions about the game. He was having the best summer.
These two amazing young men became members of our family last summer. We shared meals and our town with them. We wanted them to feel like Clinton was a home away from home.
I learned a lot more about baseball last summer listening to Cam & Tanner. Both of our players were pitchers. Cam a reliever and Tanner a starter. We learned just how hard the players worked and the long hours and days they endured. My favorite game of the year occurred on July 10th. Tanner, #12 was the starting pitcher, pitching 6 innings and Cam, #37 came in to relieve for the 7th & 8th innings and the Lumberkings beat the Lake County Captains!!!
2019 was amazing and per usual we went to as many Lumberkings games as we could. We watched them when they traveled to Kane County & the Quad Cities and even to Cedar Rapids when the Lumberkings were in the playoffs.
We loved being a host family and being a even bigger part of the baseball family. We have been waiting to see who needs a host family and the name of the baseball player we might get to host this year.
We were ready for 2020, a baseball season to possibly top last year. We had plans to follow the Lumberkings to Beloit, WI opening weekend (April 9-11) against the Beloit Snappers. Then we were going to watch them in Burlington, IA for the Burlington Bees home opener (April 13). Finally we were so excited to have opening night baseball right here in Clinton, IA cheering on our Clinton Lumberkings(April 16).
Instead we sit here unsure of the future of baseball…. Heck… our country. But we know that as Americans we support one another, we help each other heal, and when we come out the other side of this we will be stronger. When this is over we will again all meet at the ball park, forming long lines around the block to get into the stadium. We won’t mind the wait, because as we wait we will catch up with our fellow baseball fans and bleacher buddies.
Keep the faith fellow baseball fans! Let us know what you loved most about the 2019 season! Comments welcome 🙂
Yours Truly, Angela Gabel