My wife and I (and our friends Chris and Colleen) attended our second Nashua Pride game of the season last night on "Standup Comedy Night" at Historic Holman Stadium. Throughout the course of the game, five comedians took center stage (the top of the home dugout) and were given two minutes to make us laugh as much as possible.
Most failed miserably.
The guy who ended up winning (number two or three, I think. The only one I clearly remember was number five, clearly the best of the bunch. Of course, he didn't even finish in the top three) only earned the $500 prize because he was smart enough to throw a Barack Obama reference into his bit. The Illinois senator and presidential candidate was on hand to take in the ballgame and host a picnic for his New Hampshire supporters. Chris and Colleen and myself made it a goal to meet Obama and possibly ask him a hard-hitting question (Chris and Colleen are both conservative Republicans. I'm a registered Independent and the only one who may actually vote for the guy), which was difficult because a) we weren't wearing little stickers that identified us as invited guests to this picnic and b) I'm pretty sure his security detail viewed us all as mildly sketchy figures (at one point, Chris looked at me over his shoulder and said, "So are we gonna do this?", to which I replied, "We've come this far - can't go back now." No, we didn't look like terrorists at all.) Still, we managed to get right in front of him (first impression: taller than I realized), Chris prepared to extend his hand in greeting and get his thoughts on education...when one of the campaign aides suggested they start heading to their seats. As the British would say, "Bollocks."
My night was ultimately a success, however, because four innings later, while waiting for a second chance to greet the senator, I happened to look into the basket of a vendor who walked in front of me on the concourse. What was he carrying? A plain white box containing a limited edition Rich Garces Bobble Belly.
A little known fact about me: I love bobbleheads. Thanks to my time as a Pride employee, I have a total of about 10-15, some of which are stupid (a couple samples that have no personal meaning whatsoever, a WNBA mascot) and some of which are very cool (Butch Hobson, the Old Man of the Mountain, Richard Nixon). Most of them are downstairs in storage right now, banished to a far off place by the birth of my son and his hostile takeover of our second bedroom (previously my Man Room), but I assure you: someday, when I have a house of my own, those bad boys will be prominently displayed once again (no matter how much it embarrasses the boy - did I mention that he stole my room?).
Considering my love for all things bobbly and the fact that Chris and I were enjoying the Spectre of Garces enough to arm him with a secondary nickname (Dark Side of the Moon - don't ask me to explain it) and randomly shreik "EL GUAPO!" throughout the night, this was a must-have item.
"How much?" I asked the kid with the bobblehead.
"Twenty dollars," he replied.
You know James Earl Jones' big speech in Field of Dreams, the "people will come" speech where he basically tells Kevin Costner that people will be so focused on following their dreams and attaining some inner peace that they will gladly hand him twenty dollars to go look at his cornfield-turned-baseball diamond? Yeah, that was me. $20 was just a goal to reach, a number that stood between me and El Guapo - outside of that, it had no actual meaning. I scraped together what was in my pocket and rolled Colleen for another $10, almost before I knew it finding myself the proud owner of a Rich Garces Bobble Belly. People will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.
Of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone. Not thinking that my wife might not appreciate me spending $20 on a single bobblehead ("But dear...El Guapo...Field of Dreams..."), I asked the kid if they had any more in the team's gift shop. His answer: "Sure, we have a few. Butch Hobson, the Old Man of the Mountain, Roy Campanella..."
Well, fuck me. Roy Campanella. Not only one of the greatest catchers of all-time, but one of the two guys (Don Newcombe was the other) who broke the minor league baseball color barrier in the United States with the Nashua Dodgers in 1946. Talk about your underappreciated pioneers. While Jack Robinson was up in Montreal doing his thing, Campanella and Newcombe were down in New Hampshire doing theirs, blazing a trail and playing some pretty damn good baseball in the process. Needless to say, the news of a Campy bobblehead sent me charging off to the main concourse, to the team store.
Once there, I thought for about four seconds if I really wanted to buy it. Had the price been more than $10, it might've dragged out to seven or eight seconds. As it was, that thing was mine in the time it took the lady behind the counter to swipe my debit card and ask me to sign my name. Thirty dollars, gone - but in its place, two collector's items.
Tell that to my wife, who appreciates my many quirks (I also continue to collect baseball cards - sometimes, you'd swear I was about seven years old) but has never shared my love of bobbly things. It took her some time to wrap her brain around the fact that I had spent $30 on a couple of goofy looking statues - truth be told, she'll probably be struggling with it for awhile.
Wait until I tell her they're going in our living room, on the coffee table, for all visitors to see and enjoy.
In the end, the night couldn't have gone better (even if the wily and elusive Barack Obama managed to elude our grasp). The Pride, playing as the "away" team against the Can-Am League's traveling squad (the Grays), won a 4-3 nail biter (thanks in large part to five errors by the "home" team), with Garces strolling in from the bullpen to nail things down with a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixteenth save. I added two bobbly items (and a kick-ass El Guapo poster) to my collection. And I never have to listen to any of the five featured comedians ever again.