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ATPM 10.07
July 2004


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The Candy Apple

by Ellyn Ritterskamp,

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Every now and then it’s good to stand back and realize how good we have it. We should do it every day, really, but many of us don’t make it that often. I had occasion to reflect on this idea recently and thought you might like coming along for the ride. I don’t know that there are any profound revelations here, just me, marveling at how something that seemed miraculous five years ago, seems almost pedestrian today.

The short version of the story is: my mom and I sang not one but two national anthems at a baseball game. Twenty-four hours later, I e-mailed an audio clip of us to some friends and posted it on a Yahoo message board for some other friends and acquaintances. A week later there was a video, which might have been done a lot sooner had there not been a weekend and an out-of-town trip gumming up the works. News travels fast these days, even in the hands of someone like me who doesn’t know very much about the nuts and bolts of technology.

The longer version is that over the past few years, I’ve begun making an effort to tackle things I’m afraid of. I’ve quit analyzing whether a particular challenge holds a fear of failure or a fear of success. Both can hold us back. The trick is to decide if there is anything to be gained by accomplishing the challenge, and if there is, to just do it. The worst-case scenario, in most cases, is that we try something and fail. Unless we are trying to be air traffic controllers, it’s usually not a problem. We may be humiliated but usually not for long. A few exploits hang around to haunt us, but often they are the source of merriment at parties, rather than debilitating shame for years and years. Most of our friends admire us for trying stuff, and the ones who don’t, well, maybe we didn’t want to be friends with them anyway.

In December, I considered entering a contest where a TV network would make your dream come true. I thought my dream was to be a bullpen catcher for a day at a professional baseball game. That would have been fun, but I would have had to learn how to catch a fastball first, and then convince our local team to let me do it. I was driving to work with a new CD in the car about then and singing along with Clay Aiken’s remake of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I realized that my favorite moments at baseball games had little to do with bullpen catchers and everything to do with singing. We sing to start the game, and we sing in the middle of the game. Right then I decided I would see about singing the national anthem at our AAA team game this summer.

I checked the schedule and found out we still have one Canadian team in the league, and that team makes one visit here this year. I called my mom and asked if she would sing with me, and if she would learn “O Canada.” As she is a good singer and accustomed to leading the congregation at church, she was willing. We checked the Web site for audition information and started rehearsing.

Audition day came. I reviewed the worst-case scenario: the worst thing that could happen is that we were terrible, they would say thank you, and that would be that. We would still get to have lunch and sit in the sun. We’d still have our health. Nothing truly awful could happen. So we did it. Our hook about being able to do “O Canada” was useful, and they said they would call us.

They did. We were scheduled for the third game of the four-game series with the Ottawa Lynx, on a Thursday night. On Tuesday night, they called and asked if we could fill in on Wednesday afternoon. We said sure and viewed it as a free dress rehearsal. We did it that day, and my dad videotaped it. We were able to make some tweaks to our presentation based on the video, and the second go-round was even smoother. I guess this is the first example in this story of how technology made something better. Without the video, we would not have realized we needed to smile and look into the crowd more.

I held a digital audio recorder and got the whole thing, even some stuff that the crowd didn’t hear because of the microphone being off while we got ready. I sent the recorder home with my dad, who has a free Hotmail account with a 1 MB e-mail limit. Of course the file was 1.1 MB, so he couldn’t send it from home. He tried to burn it onto a CD but only got a directory file. I sent him back home with instructions on how to use Yahoo mail, as Yahoo had, just that week, upped its limit to 10 MB (it must have known we were coming). Once I got it, I posted it to a Yahoo message group with a couple of hundred online acquaintances and a few close friends. I also e-mailed it to half a dozen people. It was astounding to think about how connected we can be now, even miles away from each other. We can replay an event that took place a day before, in exquisite detail.

I had the 8 mm video transferred to a DVD and am in the process of figuring out how to get that online, too. I love learning stuff. I love that we can save these things forever: babies walking, kittens climbing, kids graduating, people singing anthems. Photos are great. Capturing a moment is tricky stuff. This business of saving and disseminating several minutes of a moment is a whole different animal for me. And I like it.

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