Yesterday, my brother and I took our little sister to her first Yankees game. She is six. Ideally, we would have waited a few more years until she understood the game better, but since this is the last season in The House that Ruth Built, it could not wait.
First off, sitting for more than three hours can be hard for a lot of people, let alone a six-year-old. So to hope for her to sit for three-plus hours and focus on the game was unrealistic.
Secondly, trying to get a six-year-old who has never seen a full baseball game beyond what she has seen me play (which is not much, I was always kind of a garbage time player, but that's beside the point) to sit and watch a game is, as we knew, darn near impossible.
So all that led me and my brother to learn a couple of things.
SUGAR IS YOUR FRIEND: If you're taking a young child to a game, the only good way to get them to behave and not bounce all over you while you try to watch the game is food. That sentiment is usually frowned upon by the medical community because it makes Americans fat, but even they cannot deny that a child seeing candy, and being denied candy is a horrible combination.
In the first three innings, my sister ate the following things: cotton candy, dippin' dots in a helmet cup, lemonade, water, and three bites of the sandwich. Add on top of that a bag of peanuts and it was not the healthiest afternoon. But man, did it keep her quiet and entertained.
BE PREPARED TO HEMORRHAGE MONEY: Going to a game is not cheap these days to begin with. When I usually go to a game, the most I will spend is about 10 or 15 dollars on myself. I spent almost three times that much just on her in, like I said, the first three or four innings.
Souvenirs are another must. There is no way that she was walking out of that stadium without being decked out in more Yankees gear than she can use in a year. First there was the kid's hat that cost more than my first hat, t-shirt, and foam finger combined ($17.50). Then she wanted one of those miniature wooden bats, only $10. Finally, a pink bat-shaped pen, a steal at five dollars.
$32.50...$32.50!!! That stuff cost all of $1.50 to make, yet somehow they have made us excited to be able to buy it. Those crafty, crafty people.
BRIBES ARE A GOOD THING: The law says that bribes are illegal. I disagree. Bribes, like sugar, are your friend at a young kid's first game. There are very few other ways to get them to behave well enough so you can try to follow the game. Therefore, bribes are to be treated like a one night stand—it seems like a good idea at the time and it might even be fun, but don't get too attached. If you do, it will come back to haunt you.
KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS LOW: The fact is, most of the people who will read this understand sports at such a depth that they can enjoy a game on a completely different level. You probably understand what I mean when I say that when I go to a baseball game there are those little things that always stick out to me, like what kind of pitch Jeter hit for his single in the third inning or what pitches the pitcher has working for him that day.
I completely missed all the little things in the game yesterday. I wasn't expecting to be able to catch them, but it was still disappointing. Every once in awhile, seemingly just as I started really getting into the game, she would pull on my sleeve and ask a question that took an inning to answer. I didn't get to see half of Mussina's strikeouts because, most of the time, I was leaning over to answer another question.
The Yankees did win 15-6, so my sister got to see a Yankee win her first game. But frankly, the only parts I really saw were the same things you could see in a highlight reel.
Combine the snack runs, the breaks to cool off and get out of the sun, bathroom trips, and everything else, and I missed roughly three innings of the six-and-a-half that we stayed for.
Odds are the kids won't really care about the game much. Honestly it seemed like she was more interested in what songs they were playing over the PA system. Come to think of it, she definitely was more interested in the music.
To put it another way, the most fun she had was when we got to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
There is no question that she had a good time, but it was more because she was with her older brothers than because of the game. So if your'e planning on taking a young kid to a game, heed my advice...sugar, bribes, spending money, and low expectations are the way to go.