Time was, all baseball games were played during the day. You see it in the old photographs, stands full of white men wearing suits and straw hats in the hot, midday sun. In modern times, a day game during the week is relatively rare, and the crowd more likely features kids from summer camp – like the game I went to, with my friend Owen.

He and I had talked about catching a Sea Dogs game, here in Portland. When I looked at their schedule, the Wednesday game at noon stood out like a purple bat. Baseball at 12 o’clock? Well … sure, why not?

We met outside and splurged on box seats – $12 each. And it’s true, there were a lot of summer camp kids in the bleachers, each camp identified by differently colored, neon-bright T-shirts. But the stands also held geezers like me, couples, families … all of us pure fans, out for some baseball in the sunshine.

And – let’s be honest – there were plenty of open seats where you could stretch out. Maybe rest your legs. Not a lot of people coming to the park at 12. But Owen and I agreed: it’s worth it. The beer tastes better in the hot sun. And somehow you feel closer to the players. And somehow their galumphs in the field – that dropped ball! That lazy slide! – don’t seem as egregious during the day. Hey, cut the guy a break. Not to get all James Earl Jones-y about it, but there are aspects to a day game that hearken back to a more forgiving time.

Owen was forgiving, too. He tolerated my pontificating on subjects such as these, as we lollygagged through the afternoon. He could tell: a day game just naturally bends a man (well, this man) to a philosophical persuasion. To idle chatter about fathers and history and tradition and thirst.

I think I’ll go get another beer.


Of course, there’s also something …illicit … about watching baseball on a Wednesday afternoon.

Aren’t we supposed to be working or engaged in another, more productive activity? Kind of like checking into a midtown hotel for a quick fling with you-know-who. Not the sort of thing you can brag about.

Ballplayers, I am told, are not so fond of day games. They say the ball is harder to pick up in the bright sun. Plus, over a 162-game schedule, the 7 p.m. start time is overwhelmingly more common, so a player’s diurnal clock adjusts to that early-evening push. Ask him to start hustling at noon, and it’s like asking a cat to swim. They can do it, but it’s not their specialty.

Works the other way, too. So much of the blinking, flashing signage in the outfield – the ball count, the pitch speed, the progress of other games – is just plain hard to see in the daytime glare. It’s all meant to be visually processed with a dark sky behind. Simply distinguishing some of those stats – wait, was that fastball 93 or 98 mph? – is a bit harder. Which may be a good thing.

How much are those beers?

Another good thing about a day game. If it stretches on and on (and every baseball game stretches on and on), it doesn’t seem to matter so much. The clock moves past 1, and 2, maybe even 3 p.m. That’s all right. We aren’t driving home in the dark; rush hour hasn’t started yet.

Oh, the Sea Dogs? They were clobbered by the Trenton Thunder, 9-4. Doesn’t matter. Nice day for a game.

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