As Liz said, when we found out Dash was going to be Dash and not Emma or Amelia or Violet, I adjusted my internal clock to start counting down to the day we'd take him to Angel Stadium for the first time.
All the men on my side of the family have baseball in their blood. My grandpa on my mom's side had a tryout with the Chicago Cubs in the 1940s and my uncle was a teenage phenom in the early 1960s, until pressure from his dad became too much and he quit. My biological dad was a lifer as well, starting from the time he was a batboy for his dad's traveling semi-pro team. In fact, it was he who took me to my very first baseball game at, you guessed it, Angel Stadium (although it was called Anaheim Stadium, or "the Big A," back then). And even though I was only about 5 years old at the time, I have a vivid memory of walking up the tunnel, coming out on the other side, and seeing a major league baseball field for the first time. I wanted this to be something special for Dash, too.
And it was. Despite the fact that he is taking his Terrible Twos very seriously, I can't remember a day in which he was better behaved. It was almost like he knew that this was a special bonding experience, and he didn't want to spoil it. From the moment we strapped him into his car seat for the one-hour-plus drive to
I had purchased the cheapest seats available, because Liz and I agreed that we weren't going to this game to be close to the action, we were going because we (ok, I) wanted Dash to have his first baseball experience. And we figured that since it was a night game, he wouldn't last 9 innings and we'd end up missing most of the game, anyway.
I had started trying to teach Dash to say "Vladimir Guerrero" before he was able to talk, so this was a huge day for both of us. I actually felt a little nervous as we approached the Big A, but my nerves quickly settled when Dash started getting excited and saying "We going to Angels game!" in between the call and response of "Vladimir" and "Guerrero." It just so happened that this was Guerrero Bat and Ball Night, commemorating Vladdy's 2000th hit, so naturally Dash was stoked as soon as we passed through the gates.
Then, things got a little dicey. We hopped on the escalator and went up. And up. And up. By the time we reached our seats, we were literally standing at the top of the stadium -- the very last row in Section 522. This was a serious problem, as one of the Engels is afraid of heights, and anyone who's had the misfortune of sitting this high up knows how steep it is; it constantly feels like you're going to tumble over the row in front of you, even when you're sitting down. So while Liz started to have a panic attack, we walked back down to the bottom of the section and asked the usher if there was anything we could do. He suggested going to the Ticket Exchange window and seeing about an upgrade. Being the trooper she is (and most likely to get down closer to solid ground), Liz said, "You and Dash watch the game, I'll go to the Exchange."
I sure as hell wasn't going to lug the D-Man up those 80 steps to get to the top of Mount Angel Stadium again, so I quickly slipped down into the season ticket section and sat down in an open seat (this was the first inning, so naturally most of the season ticket holders' seats were still vacant).
A couple minutes after we sat down, I saw the familiar gait of #27 slowly meandering toward the batter's box so I said to Dash, "Listen!" When the PA announcer said, "Now batting, Vladimir Guerrero" Dash started busting up. That's when I knew this was going to be a great night.
Long story short, my darling wife returned with new tickets, and we made our way down, down, down, all the way to Section 225! Dash ate a hot dog, nachos, Cracker Jack and peanuts. He loved watching the action on the field, but he was just as happy to just soak it all in and watch the people around us. Maybe it's just me romanticizing it, but I really got the sense that he understood the importance of this event. We went to the Stadium Store at some point (honestly, the actual game was secondary on this night) and Dash found a padded bat and ball and started playing baseball, right in the store. We wandered around for about 20 minutes and ended up walking out of there with the aforementioned bat and ball, a hat, a t-shirt, a rally monkey and an Angels Matchbox car. Oh, and Dash got some stuff too.
As we celebrated the win on the drive home (Dash celebrated by passing out as soon as his butt hit the car seat), Liz and I both said that (outside of the obvious ones) this was the best day of our lives. And it truly was; Dash went to his first Angels game, got a Guerrero bat, ate Cracker Jack, saw the Rally Monkey in action and saw the Angels win. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect start to Dash's lifelong obsession with the Angels.