It's baseball season. I can't claim to be an expert on this All-American sport, but I really enjoy watching a California League Maverick home game at Stater Bros. Stadium.


My father took me to see my first pro ballgame at Wrigley Field. It was my thirteenth birthday and, in Dad's eyes, seeing the Cubs was a right of passage. I was with an expert. Both he and my mother had played amateur baseball and while Mom earned local press coverage and an enviable collection of metals, Dad was at his best collecting and interpreting stats. He might have been a sports reporter but that afternoon in Chicago his only audience was me, the daughter with poor eye-hand coordination, and so myopic it was difficult to make out the players on the field.


Dad did his best to instruct me on the strategy of each play and which players were performing better than their averages. He opined about the manager's choice of substituting pitchers; why he considered the shortstop the most important position on the field, and when the umpire missed calling something Dad had observed. While Dad was absorbed with the game on the field, he was listening to another on his pocket radio. I learned from Dad that baseball is an art. But what I observed from the Chicago fans was easier for a young girl to grasp. Home-team loyalty is infectious and fun.


When we moved to California Dad was delighted that the Dodgers soon followed; while I was content to have my first pair of eyeglasses. It's not that the Angeles didn't suit Dad's tastes but he believed that having a National League pro ball home team in LA was the ultimate joy. I've attended games at Chavez Ravine and participated in the kinship the LA crowd develops when supporting their team. It's impossible not to catch Dodger Spirit and cheer a good play when crowded together with other fans, watching a tight competition dramatically enhanced with the bellowing Wurlitzer Organ and punctuated with cheers orchestrated from the electronic scoreboard.


The summer I moved to the High Desert, my sons with other Dodger fans stopped by after attending a Maverick game at Adelanto. The guys boasted about the excitement of the game and the quality of the players. They found good quality at an affordable price and pledged to return for more.


I had thought of the minors only as a proving ground for the big leagues and didn't realize these teams have a following of loyal fans. Now that I've seen this for myself, I've caught the local spirit. More mistakes are made in the minors, but the fans enjoy that part of the game too, even when the DJ is playing a song that doesn't match the action on the field. Where else can you have a real chance to catch a foul ball? Where else can you watch an up-and-coming young player develop? It's more fun to be able to boast "I saw him when" than just being one of multitude introduced to players when they are already at the top of their game.


I've continued tradition by taking my teenage Grandson Andrew to the games. The mascot Wooly Bully is available for a high-five or to sign a baseball when he isn't rolling on the field and leading a cheer, or leading the kids in a contest during the seventh inning stretch. Thanks to a wonderful lady in the row in front of us, Andrew went home with a foul ball. But the time my grandson watched Tyson Gillies run bases after one of his famous doubles (and we were rewarded with a coupon for an In&Out double-double) Gillies was close enough to hear Andrew's cheers even without a hearing aid.


An evening with the Mavs costs about a tenth of the price of an evening at Dodger Stadium; and the concession stands do not charge more than outside establishments. We'll probably lose some bargain edge if there is a bigger and better stadium in Maverick future. Taking a page from my father's playbook I'll use this opportunity to suggest improvements. More of us should join in the fun. It's a win/win opportunity.