They say baseball brings out the child in them.
Even as we grow older, however, some of our childhood pastimes don’t fade out of the spotlight.
I grew up spending every summer hour from dawn to dusk in my backyard.
My best friend and I would play “fake games,” which consisted of imaginary wiffleball games where the two of us played both teams and all 18 players. We tossed the ball up to ourselves and let our creativity unfold the rest.
I’d step up to the plate, pretending I was the actual player.
When Andres Galarraga stepped to the plate, my stance was open. When it was Dante Bichette’s turn in the lineup I would remove my hat from my head, run my fingers through my imaginary long hair and clinch both hands on the ends of the bat and circle it over my head like he used to do.
We had a magic erase board for the scoreboard and my dog’s pen for the dugout.
One summer when my next door neighbor was getting his house painted, the painters stayed late so they could listen to the excitement in our voices as we called the game.
Perhaps that was the game that concluded when Larry Walker hit a walk-off home run, clanking off the neighbor’s house, still fresh with wet paint.
When my friend wasn’t around, the baseball didn’t stop.
I used my pitch-back to, again, throw my imaginary games. This time I was the actual player on the roster, playing for a big league team.
I gave myself four seconds to field the ball, throw it to the net and have it bounce back into my glove in order to record an out. For every four seconds it took to do that, it was another base.
I even kept track of stats and recorded them into a document on the computer. After the game I would conduct my own postgame interviews, where I, both the analyst and the manager, would discuss the game and box score.
Now, a decade later, I’m a 20-year-old grown man and my imagination still runs wild.
There is no greater summer evening activity than getting friends together for a game of wiffleball.
My friend has an ideal wiffleball yard, full of fenced off home run areas, a short porch in right field and the giant pine tree, ruled as an automatic ground rule double.
Two floodlights make up the lighting so the games can stretch well into the evening while a home-made block of wood marks the strike zone.
We’ll even cut the grass into a baseball diamond and chalk the base paths with flour.
It’s now my turn to bat. Two pitches go by, the latter banking off the wooden strike zone. On the third pitch I take a swing and watch it soar.
“That one’s hit deep,” I shout out. “Back, to the track, you can kiss it goodbye.”
This article is also featured on Bleacher Report.
July 23. It’s a simple date, but today marks the 13-year anniversary of my first trip to Coors Field.
Who knew it would transform my life and who knew the game would be so historical?
To be honest, I don’t remember much about the game.
I know the Rockies played the New York Mets.
I also recall my grandma, who took me to the game, teaching me that the home team wore white while the visitors were in gray.
Besides that, the last thing I remember about the game is joining the crowd with boos after the Rockies let up a home run. My grandma told me booing players was not polite.
Looking back at the game, it turns out we were booing a six-run sixth inning for the Mets, who tied the game that inning after the Rockies once led 7-0.
Upon looking back at the box scores, it turns out my first game at Coors Field was one heck of a game. It’s a shame I can’t remember anything from it, but that game was the first of an endless amount to come. Who couldn’t be turned on to the sport of baseball seeing 21 runs, 31 hits and a game-winning, walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth?
I saw Dante Bichette and Vinny Castilla hit home runs while Andres Gallaraga hit a pair. Did I mention they were back to back to back home runs in front of a home crowd of 48,000-plus?
Eric Young, my all-time favorite Rockie, had a ninth inning infield single with the bases loaded, scoring Jayhawk Owens for the win.
The reason I remember the date of this event was my grandma later bought a personalized brick.
Back in Coors Field’s first few seasons of existence, the Rockies organization allowed fans to purchase bricks that could be engraved with a message, and then cemented into the ground leading up to the stadium near left field.
In quadrant 11, row three, seven bricks from the left,
“Nicholas A. Hallisey
Game 07 23 1996″
During my last visit to “the greatest place on Earth,” I took a stroll down Wynkoop Walk, the area containing the few thousand bricks.
Some people wrote personal messages, some were to loved ones. Others had famous quotes or were signed from the Rockies No. 1 fans.
“Baseball is life,” “Another Rockies fan born,” “Kiss it goodbye,” and “Thanks for the future memories” are just a few.
It’s a neat part of the stadium that not many people know about.
On the certificate that was given to me with my brick, it states that my brick will be forever etched in stone at Coors Field.
Thanks to that July game 13 years ago, my love for baseball has also been etched in stone.
This article is also featured on Bleacher Report.