By Guy Mitchell aka sweetg1

As we embark upon the new season, I’d like to share what the 2012 season meant to me and my son.

On June 24, 1976, my dad changed my life when he took me to my very first baseball game. I remember the event well. We were in Houston on vacation and we went to the Astrodome to see the Houston Astros play the Los Angeles Dodgers. But it was not only the game that I enjoyed, but the entire experience. I remember staying at a hotel close to the Astrodome and thinking that the Dodgers were staying there before the game. Imagine a nine year old kid, thinking about seeing guys like Steve Garvey, Dusty Baker, and Ron Cey and asking for their autograph wearing a Houston Astros hat. I recall thinking that if I ever saw a player, then I’d quickly remove my hat before asking them to sign. Unfortunately, having run around the entire hotel, I didn’t see one Dodger. I’d convinced myself at the time that some of the Dodgers might have seen me wearing the Astros hat, and hid from me.

I remember the game fairly well. When we attended, it happened to be Cesar Cedeno night. They gave away a Cedeno picture and some really cool things that, unfortunately, I no longer have, as they were lost when we moved. We had great seats along the first baseline (for only $3.50 per ticket!). The Dodgers ended up winning the game 5-1. I thought I remembered Dusty Baker hitting a HR that game, but all of the sources that I’ve found show that he was 1-4 with a couple of long outs. I think I saw how far he hit the ball and couldn’t believe how far the ball went. Some aspects of the game were fuzzy, but you always remember the hot dog that you ate and how good it made you feel.

That memory stuck with me a long time. The players were so close you could almost touch them. Baseball became more important to me after that game. Looking at the back of baseball cards became important to me. How they determined ERAs and Batting Averages became important to me. These events became so important in my life that I ended up studying Mathematics and Statistics in college because I liked determining how numbers worked with one another. It became my way of life and a big part of my career.

Last year, my six year old son asked me if I could take him to a Colorado Rockies game. Naturally, the excitement of taking my son to his first game brought me back to my dad taking me to my first game and I wanted to leap through the roof that he asked ME to go (as opposed to me dragging him when he was 2 months old and claiming it was his first game – which of course, for all of you that do that, my apologies, as no offense is meant). I just always envisioned that my son would remember his first game like I remembered mine and that his first memory of the game wasn’t his 19th ball game.

I was fortunate enough to have a neighbor who has season tickets and told me that any game I wanted to see, just ask him. His seats were also along the first baseline (like my first game) and they were 4 rows up from the field. What great seats, I thought! How do you explain to someone who is 6 years old that these aren’t your every day seats and how most guys spend their life up in the rafter?? It was beyond his comprehension.

I don’t know what he’ll remember from this game, but here are my takeaways:

- He probably won’t remember that Pittsburgh won 6-2 (he remembers that the Rockies lost).

- He probably won’t remember that Andrew McCutchen hit his 73rd career HR in what could have been his MVP season (he didn’t get the MVP, but he was voted Most Outsanding Player in 2012).

- He won’t remember the joy on his dad’s face when I asked if he was tired in the 5th inning and if he was ready to go home. He wanted to stay for the entire game!

What he may remember:

- The foul ball that went over our heads – he says that was the most exciting part of the game!

- The “First Game” button that the usher gave to him and how nice everyone was.

- That the stadium staff would not put him on the Jumbotron when he was dancing between innings – everyone around us was rooting for him to get on – he danced his heart off!

- Taking his Rockies foam finger and his baseball mitt to the game.

- High-fiving Dinger, the mascot as he walked by.

- Watching ourselves on TV after the game – we actually saw ourselves!

- Getting an actual game ball – the usher told us to go down to row 1 when the couple left after the 6th inning – he liked being in row 1. I remember running around Mile High Stadium for years trying to get an actual game ball during the minor league days of the Denver Bears in the 70s, only to come up empty every single time. I have to admit that I was both pleased for my son and jealous at the same time!

- The cotton candy, the lemonade slushy, and of course….THE HOT DOG!

It was a good day! My only thought is if it could ever impact his life like my first game impacted my life.

Let the 2013 games begin!