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Summer’s finest

Kelly Higgins | Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The semester is almost over, which means only one thing – summer is coming. As a junior, this will be my last three months of complete freedom, at least until retirement. After this summer I will no longer get my yearly three months to recharge and enjoy myself. The “real world” does not afford these luxuries.

Although I will be working full-time, I plan on taking advantage of my last opportunity to act like a kid. What better way to relive my childhood than with baseball of all kinds? Independent league, minor league, major league – my convenient northwest Indiana location offers it all. The biggest decision I need to make is which team I will root for.

One choice is the Gary Southshore Railcats. You may have noticed their field from the window of your South Shore train. Set in beautiful downtown Gary, the Railcats really have it all – giveaways every night, the rowdiest MC and the best live pizza race in town. Not to mention their father-son mascot team Rusty and Rascal. I can choose to watch the game from the stands or from the ever glorious party tub behind center field. Each seat is the perfect place to enjoy a hot dog and cheer on the two-time Northern League (that’s independent) Champs.

Option two offers a similar family atmosphere and guaranteed fun, including a battle royal produce race where an enlarged broccoli challenges an ear of corn on foot. The South Bend Silverhawks may be the best kept secret in this area. A feeder for the Diamondbacks, the Hawks might not have the best record, but they do offer a great time. I’ve never been to a stadium where heckling the other team was quite as enjoyable. Because the stands are less than filled to capacity, to put it mildly, the players can hear every word you say. This is quite effective when yelling things like “ducks on the pond 2 – 4, knock ’em in” in support or “left, right, left, right” as the other team marches to the bench after striking out. This freedom of baseball phraseology at its finest, coupled with dollar Mondays and thirsty Thursdays, will surely put the Hawks at the top of my list on many days.

Of course, the wonderful Chicago White Sox, nestled on the South Side, never disappoint. Where else can you enjoy a sunset over the skyline of Chicago, Icees of all flavors and Tadahito Iguchi all in one place? To a real White Sox fan there is nothing more magical than watching the montage of amazing plays set to the score from Pirates. After the game has started, it is important to check the big screen from time to time so as not to miss the intermittent prom requests, proposals and birthdays in between the hat trick and pizza race.

I realize I’ve neglected to comment on the shear greatness of the game itself, because that is a given. It is important for everyone to realize there is more to going to a game than the sport itself, and I encourage everyone to try it out at any level. I know this is a guaranteed great summer of baseball which will have to hold me over until I retire to follow the Sox cross-country.