Sounds resonate all over major league ballparks
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Major League ballparks are like tabernacles, but with different architecture and varying histories at each locale.
Fans wearing jerseys of their favorite players, nearly everybody checking their cell phones, baseball caps on young and old alike . . . but always hearing the same sounds.
For decades on end, the sounds of the game at major league stadiums have changed because of technology, but much of what is now heard was the same patter and had the same tempo as was found in 1952, when the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers four games to three in the World Series.
As you maneuver your car along the streets near the ballpark, there are street “entrepreneurs” holding handmade signs and waving frantically to park your vehicle for $15-to-$30 in their lot. “Enjoy the ball game” they say after you have forked over the parking fee.
Walking to the game, you’ll encounter vendors of all shapes and sizes. “Bottled water for $1, costs $4 in the stadium.” “Peanuts just $3 a bag; costs $6 a bag inside.” “My popcorn is $3 a box, their’s is $7 in there.”
Hats, jerseys, foam fingers, plush toys and warm up jackets can be bought on the outside.
“Hey, Orioles team jerseys here. Manny Machado going cheap. Same with Zach Britton and Jonathan Schoop.”
The sounds of a tragic season are far different than those pattered by the hirelings of a pennant contender.
Those attendants taking game tickets at the turnstiles can be glum from the staggering team losses, but they chirp out the words, “Enjoy the ball game.”
Just inside the gates wait other vendors with tried-and-true selling slogans: “Hot doggie . . . red hots . . . right here,” “Beer here, get your ice cold Boh,” “Hey, lineups and scorecards . . . can’t tell the players without a scorecard.”
No matter the home side has won 37 times and lost 95 times, the music is blaring from the public address system as you wander through the concourses that move you to your seats.
The still peppy public address announcer intones the starting lineups, makes his perfunctory announcements and directs the 12,000 widely scattered in the stands, to the group ready to sing the National Anthem near home plate.
The loudest cheer of the night is readied for the singers when the anthem is completed.
Voices have a different quality in the box seats than in the bleachers or behind and above the right fielder.
If you arrive early enough, the squeals of delight from 10-year-olds gleaning autographs below the lower box seats can he heard.
The large jumbotron behind the right field bleachers ratchets up the decibel level, as it plays its team advertisements and words, seeking to help you part with your money while at the ball park.
Once upon a time in the land of milk and honey, there was a constant buzz in the stands when the team was contending and the games were close. Not so much any more.
Games for the youngsters and the young at heart play between half-innings on the jumbotron.
The home crowd gives soft, polite applause for the players it barely knows. Long-time players get a heartier response when they are announced in the batting order and their face appears on the large screen.
A half-hearted effort at doing The Wave is attempted as the last of those vending lemonade, ice cream, cotton candy, beer and hot dogs give voice that they won’t be coming back around after the seventh inning.
The seventh-inning stretch brings few positive words and fewer hits from the home side.
The game ends and the smallish crowd wends its way to the gates. Some garbled words from the radio broadcast are heard over the public address as the patrons file out into the parking lots.
More vendors are waiting outside along the walkways. They do well on hot nights with their $1 bottles of water. The Manny Machado, Darren O’Day and Britton jerseys are still hanging in the breeze when the last of the patrons have wandered on by.
Baseball’s sounds don’t change much. They are just louder when the home team can win three out of 10 games.