By Michael Rusignuolo
First of all, I’d like to say that I’m honored to be participating in this post-blogathon event. And as one of the countless people whose family has been affected by the disease, here’s hoping I am following up a successful effort at raising money for the V Foundation for cancer research.
The story I’m about to tell requires a bit of back-story. Over the last decade, I’ve taken “Baseball De World” to heart. I started out by visiting all the Major League Baseball parks in America over the course of several years. Having completed my original goal in 2009, I just kept going to the next largest professional league in the world, the NPB. With two trips in 2010 and 2011, I saw all the home stadiums Japan had to offer. I did all of Korea’s KBO in 2012, and this year I visited the more modest, gambling-contracted Taiwanese CPBL.
I don’t consider a park “visited” unless I watch an official game at the stadium with the home team, take pictures of the park, and keep score for the game with the home scorecard (if one exists). Scorekeeping is as much a part of watching baseball for me as breathing is to living. I enjoy the fact that I can recreate every out of every game I’ve witnessed as part of this effort. I realize baseball scorekeeping is a bit of a dying art, and if anything, it just re-enforces my love of it.
[The story that follows is a modified excerpt of my longer travelogue about the first game of the Taiwan trip at http://baseballoogie.blogspot.com/2013/06/new-taipei-city.html. I think you’ll see why the above is relevant as you read. I was taking in my first game in Taiwan at Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium, and as luck would have it, it was Manny Ramirez‘s EDA Rhinos visiting the Brother Elephants in New Taipei City. Not expecting anything too outrageous, I had gotten to the stadium a little later than I normally would, and I found myself unable to get tickets anywhere but the outfield bleachers.]
This is really the story of the trip. And not just this trip. Perhaps if all my ramblings around America and Asia to see all the baseball had a point to prove, it was proven this evening.
As I had gotten my tickets late, Manny-mania had relegated me to the segregated outfield bleachers, which were a first-come, first-served affair. After lining up in the outfield entrance, we were all let in, and those there quickly scrambled for the best available seats, saving them in Asian fashion by putting some personal items on them. I decided to wander around and take as many photos as I could from the outfield, and maybe find a way to sneak out of the bleachers. For whatever reason, I decided to start in right field and work my way over to left. I took my shots and poked around, eventually going down into the first row of seats in the corner of left field to take some pictures, and then I headed back up to the top of the stairs to go find someplace with good sight lines to sit down.
As I reached the top of the stairs, I saw an older gentlemen pulling out some papers and getting settled in by the top row of seats by left field foul pole. I had to do a double-take, but it appeared that he had some scorecards with him. This was the first person besides myself in all my trips in Asia who I’d found scoring a game. What I had wanted to do was to walk up to him and ask if those were, in fact, scorecards. What I actually did was practically run up to him and said, rather energetically, “Oh my god, are you keeping score?”
He proudly showed me his scorecards, which turned out to be for a *Yankees* game. There was a bit of a language barrier, as he spoke a little English, and I spoke a very little Chinese, but I immediately whipped my scorecards out of my bag, and we were quickly showing each other “1-3″s and “DP 6-4-3″s and when he proudly showed me a “DP 3-6-3,” I nearly hugged him.
I asked if I could have a seat, and we quickly spent the time before the game exchanging what non-baseball information we could. It turned out that he was 81 (and he didn’t look a day over 50), and he had two sons living in America in Oklahoma City who were in their 50s. He had been up since early this morning watching the Yankees and then the Orioles games on Taiwan TV and keeping score on them before he came out for the game tonight. I told him where I was from and what I was doing out here, and he approved. We kept going through our scorebooks to see the different way we scored things and any new things the other had, and when language failed, pantomimes got across enough information to make ourselves understood. He had never seen the backwards “K” before for a strikeout, and some play-acting later, he had gotten the meaning. He hoped there was a strike out looking tonight so he could try it out.
This was just transcendent. I thought of the string of events that had to happen to get me here at this place at this time to make this happen. I had to go to right field before left field, or I probably wouldn’t have noticed him. I had to try and buy a ticket too late to end up in the bleachers to begin. I had to decide that I was going to go to this first game at all, since I wasn’t scheduled to start going to ballgames until the next night. The only reason I knew about this game because a friend of mine was planning to be in town on business before his plans changed, and he wanted to see a game with me before he had to leave for home. I had to have everything earlier happen to make me feel lucky enough to try for the game tonight at all despite the rain. I had to think going to Japan was a good idea after finishing up America. Heck, I had to start going on these trips at all. And it led me to this point in time.
Needless to say, we spent most of the game going back and forth after each playing, showing how we scored it, and about other things such as 1,2,3 innings (or yi, er, san, as the case may be). Eventually, a family ended up sitting by us, and the father spoke better English, so he was able to act as interpreter for us both. It was a hell of a way to spend an evening. Around the end of the seventh inning, my friend decided to call it a night and go home, and since it was the third ballgame he watched today, I didn’t feel in a position to judge.
For more information on Michael’s travels around the world watching baseball, check out his blog – Baseball Oogie
#Blogathon Guest Post
This post was contributed by a guest for our #Blogathon. You can find more information about the author within the actual post. We'd like to thank everyone who contributed in our effort to raise money for The V Foundation.