By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
There were a lot of foul balls flying into the stands Saturday night at Bowen Field. For awhile it almost seemed as if the visiting Johnson City Cardinals were aiming for the larger-than-normal crowd of fans assembled at the ballpark. The announcer on several occasions had to remind the fans — and small children in particular — to watch out for foul balls that may come hurling in their direction.
At one point, a man two or three rows above me stood up and caught a foul ball with his hand — leading the crowd beside of him to clap and applaud. Another man chanted — repeatedly — for the Bluefield Blue Jays to “strike ’em out.” It was a chant he would repeat throughout the night each time the Cardinals were up to bat. While all of this was happening, vendors were walking up and down the bleachers selling pop, hot dogs and cheeseburgers.
It was Saturday night at the ballpark. A big city experience in the small town. And a lot of fun to be had for only $5 a ticket. But despite the great crowd Saturday night, there were still a lot of empty seats at Bowen Field. That’s kind of disappointing. A lot of folks are missing out on some great fun right here in their own backyard. If you haven’t been to Bowen Field lately to check out the new Blue Jays, or to Hunnicutt Stadium to watch the Princeton Rays, now would be the time to do so. Both teams will back home just in time for the long Fourth of July holiday.
Saturday night was the first time I had a chance to see the new Bluefield Blue Jays play. A year ago when they first arrived in Bluefield to replace the legendary Bluefield Orioles, I had assumed the caregiver role for my mother. There was no time to go to the ball park for the inaugural season of the Jays. My place was at home — at my mother’s bedside.
This time a year ago, I was saying my final farewells to Mom. The one-year anniversary of her passing is quickly approaching. It is hard to believe that a year has passed. While she is gone, it still feels like she is here. A part of her lives on in me. Her voice is still directing me, and guiding me, in life. I still hear her voice in my head telling me what to do when I am faced with a difficult decision.
I find comfort in knowing that while she is gone, a part of her still lives on in my memories and my decisions in life.
Mom was always big on entering contests, and playing the lottery. I try not to play the lottery too much anymore, but I will buy the occasional scratch-off ticket now and then just so that things will feel normal — like they used to when she and I would go out to shop.
I recently, and reluctantly, decided to enter an online contest sponsored by my favorite fast food restaurant — Kentucky Fried Chicken. The end result was frustration, as I still have no idea whether or not I won anything.
The combo meal I purchased came with a dreaded Internet code on the cup. I was tempted to throw the cup away after finishing my soda. But the prospect of what I could win was too tempting. A new car. A $500 shopping spree. And the list went on and on. So I reluctantly decided to take the cup home with me.
As I expected, it took almost 15 minutes to enter online. After completing the lengthy entry process, I was told I would receive an email letting me know If I won. Sure enough I did receive an e-mail. But the e-mail required me to link to yet another webpage before I would know if I was a winner or not. The website in question, of course, wouldn’t load. In fact, I’m still waiting on it to load. I also tried it at work — and still no luck. Just an error message when the KFC page attempted to load. Frustrating.
Oh how I really miss the good old says. Remember when you would immediately find out whether or not you were a winner by unwrapping a candy bar, opening the top cap on a two-liter of soda or finding the “Congratulations, you are a winner slip” buried deep inside of a cereal box. Nowadays, when you remove the cap from the two-liter of soda, unwrap the candy bar or dig deep into the box of the cereal, all you get is an online Internet code.
Mom didn’t like the Internet codes. Neither do I. Either you are a winner, or you aren’t. You shouldn’t have to wait forever to find out.
Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at email@example.com.