My work with TigsTown.com and Scout.com has given me the extremely fortunate opportunity to attend dozens of baseball games a year as "work." For someone that has a longstanding love of the game, the opportunity to attend so many games a year is a blessing, and something I never take for granted.
Unfortunately, my attendance in a work mode does not allow me to attend many games as just a fan; a fan of a particular team or of a particular player. Instead, I am forced to attend as an impartial observer, without a rooting interest one way or another.
This past Sunday, I was thrilled to be at Comerica Park in Detroit as nothing more than a fan of the team I grew up loving – a true fanatic as the word implies. I attended Sunday's game with my Father, Grandfather, and Aunt, sitting in the Tigers' Den along the first base side.
Unlike my typical visits to the ball park, there was no instant analysis, pictures of prospects, talking to scouts, or information to gather. There was just enjoying the game with my family; with three generations of the Anderson clan sitting together watching our favorite team.
Instead of heading to the press box, or sitting behind home plate with scouts before and during the game, I showed my Grandfather around the park; admiring the statues of the men he has watched throughout his life.
Listening to him reminisce about Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline, and Willie Horton was something to treasure. Watching him soak up the atmosphere at Comerica Park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon was something to behold. To spend the day with a Pearl Harbor Survivor – my Grandfather – as part of Memorial Day weekend when the country is at least in part honoring his fallen brethren, is truly something that is indescribable.
After navigating the crowds as we made our way around nearly the entire park, I offered up to my Grandfather that we could head down by the Tigers' dugout and see if we could get some autographs. As he perked up at the idea, we were on our way; slowly making our way down the stairs toward the field. As we arrived at the front row and he made his way to the railing, right-handed pitcher Ryan Perry was making his way back to the dugout, signing as he walked along. Ryan stopped and signed my Grandfather's ball and posed for a picture with him; a treat that immediately put a smile on his face.
As if things couldn't get any better, Tigers' Manager Jim Leyland began making his way from the dugout towards the outfield. Leyland also stopped and signed, posing for a picture with my Grandfather as well. To cap it off, left-hander Fu-Te Ni stopped to sign as well; giving him three autographs in a matter of a few minutes.
Seeing the smile on my Grandfather's face was enough to make the day complete; without seeing a single play of the impending game against the Oakland Athletics.
A day after being stomped by Brett Anderson and the A's, we were anxious to see a different Tiger team on the field. The Tigers came out with a run in the first, a run in the second, and one more in each the third and fourth innings, as they moved out to a quick lead.
As the strikeouts piled up for starter Max Scherzer, the laughter amongst our crew increased, wondering how this dominance could possibly continue. Seeing the radar gun light up with triple digits as Joel Zumaya locked down the final two innings, led to more smiles and disbelieving shakes of the head.
A monster day from third baseman Brandon Inge, and a mammoth home run from first baseman Miguel Cabrera were met with even more wide-smiling approval. The Tigers big 10-2 victory was yet another highlight in a nearly flawless day.
All of this combined – the atmosphere, the autographs, the pictures, and the win – made for more than just a good day. It resulted in a wonderful family experience; the type of experience that only seems to happen in books and movies.
Three generations of the Anderson family were able to bond over America's pastime. We were able to laugh and love in the presence of the greatest game, and ultimately we were handed a lengthy list of incredible memories that can never be revoked.
For all of the popularity possessed by the NBA and the NFL, Sunday's game – or just Sunday's experience with my family – was all the evidence I needed to realize that baseball is still America's game. Baseball is still the game of the American family; that commonality that brings families together and binds them with memories and experiences that are to be cherished for years.
Baseball isn't just a game, no matter what anyone says. Anything with the power to bring generations together the way it did this Memorial Day weekend isn't just a game. Baseball is more than that. Baseball is part of the American fabric that tells the tales of generations and families. Baseball is actually family, without a doubt.