Until there is something really important on the line, Laura and I make no apologies to anyone for sitting side-by-side at baseball games in the spring, shooting away with our cameras while shooting from the lip on just about everything else. This is our chance to have some fun. Those games together make up for all the times we are on different sides of the field and ends of the court. We relish the time together.
We talk about everything between plays. We laugh and makes fools of each other. Laura catches grief because she happens to really like guys in baseball uniforms. She will volley back at me with comments about me and track and field women in bun huggers. True on both counts. Tied score.
We will rate the players’ walk-up music, the little snippets of music and lyrics from a song a player likes as he strides to the plate. The Jayhawks are getting low marks now compared to other years. This always leads to us picking our own walk-up songs.
Laura’s choice never varies. The remastered Elvis Presley classic, A Little Less Conversation, with its pulsing drum and guitar intro used in the movie Ocean’s Eleven is what gets her swinging the big bat that is a 400mm lens. Laura goes up by a run.
With my even bigger 600mm lens, I will vary my choice. Edwin Starr’s 1969 Vietnam War protest classic War was my long-time choice with these lyrics, “War, good god, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.”
We get into this so deeply that Laura chastises me saying KU would never let that blare out over the loudspeakers, as if we ever would have walk-up music. “In our dreams,” I would always say. Still, I strike out and no runs score in this at bat.
To get runs on the scoreboard, I have jumped from the opening driving beat of The Heavy’s How You Like Me Now to the fun of being “knee-deep in the water somewhere” thanks to the Zac Brown Band. However, my all-time favorite would be Try A Little Tenderness.
Otis Redding’s version is most favored, but I bring into the game Three Dog Night with their throbbing Hammond organ version as they sing, “You got to hold her, squeeze her, never leave her, got to, got to, yea, you got to, try some tenderness.”
“Playing for the team, but always thinking of the ladies,” is what I tell Laura. Line drive base hit, driving in two runs. I am now up by one.
Yes, we (or at least me) are truly insane. Laura sometimes just backs away knowing I am on an imbalanced roll and the best thing she can do is just ride the crest of that wave until I wash out. We try to match players with the girls in the stands that cluster together in their personal support group. We call them “Bimbettes.” They are easy to spot, dressed way too nicely – and showy – for Hoglund Ballpark. Laura is very good at this. Again, it is a woman’s thing with the uniforms. She ties the score in the back and forth action.
We suffer through the no-clue-comments of boosters that have had a bit too much to drink in their private club just behind the first base photo bay. Meanwhile, the four and six-year-old sons of pitching coach Ryan Graves sit in the same area dissecting the game with knowledge far surpassing many 20-year-old players. My cries against idiocy squeeze in a run. I am back in the lead.
We plow through bags of peanuts in the shell. Laura just does it with more style and dignity. The peanut husks stuck to my teeth are like a wild pitch. Laura slides into home to knot the score.
Since we really have to work, we both call in our closers. That would be our game action. This is where the fun really gets intense. After a big play one of us always asks “Did you make an epic?” Laura is much like the blazing fireball reliever. Her reaction times are a fraction faster than mine. We have proven this through scientific testing.
When daughter Kelly swam on club teams, we often volunteered as timers. Between races, we challenged each other to start and stop our stopwatches as fast as possible. Over and over, with rare exception, Laura just nipped me by fractions of a second. In our world, it is perfectly fine for her to gloat while I steam and feign total defeat. As Kelly grew older, she also grew to appreciate the fun we have together, but as a girl, she burned looks deep into our souls.
While Laura throws her fastballs, I have to use my experience and my cutter to snap her bat at the lens mount like Mariano Rivera. Time to “chimp.” Digital cameras allow photographers to view images immediately which leads to the shameless self-promotion of showing off images to other photographers by what are usually very insecure photographers. Imagine a chimpanzee jumping up and down, scratching away and grunting ooh, ooh, ooh. That is “chimping” at its worst.
Yes, we show off our images, but only to each other. This is competition. We fire away at each other and spew trash talk like tobacco juice. The score remains tied heading to the bottom on the ninth.
Can either of us win this titanic battle? Yes, there always is a winner. With pride, some chagrin and in fairness, I admit Laura has won her fair share. However, for now in this compilation, I pull out this victory by going deep with this sure-fired game winning line.
“Young girls they do get wooly.”
Back to Try A Little Tenderness. In the classic baseball romance movie, Bull Durham, Tim Robbins played the goof-ball pitcher with unlimited potential, “Nuke” LaLoosh. His tutor was the aging catcher Crash Davis, played by Kevin Costner.
LaLoosh strummed his guitar during a scene on the team bus and sang, “Young girls they do get wooly.” Davis gets up to respond, jerking away the guitar, “No one gets wooly. ‘Weary.’ Young girls they get weary!”
My Christmas presents to Laura always have little notes that suggest the gift’s contents for Laura to guess. For a gift of wool slacks, the note said simply – “Young girls they do get wooly.”
Laura began to laugh hysterically leading me to laugh hysterically resulting in us both rolling on floor in uncontrollable laughter as Julie and Kelly sat in shock. You would have to have been there to really appreciate this. Just know I can pull out that line, only rarely, if I need to hit a walk-off home run.
Should you ever find yourself at a KU baseball game and see us sitting together laughing our heads off, remember I might just have taken Laura deep. Game off.