an ode to section 12

Section 12. Row E. Seats 3 & 4.

It’s not so much my seats I want to celebrate here but the ones of the people around me, the section 12 regulars from Tuesday and Friday:

ROW E, SEATS 1 & 2: Julia & Miriam are two sisters from Middle Village. More than anyone else in the Tuesday/Friday crowd, I owe them a debt of gratitude. I am gregarious by nature and befriended the other T/F folks in the row behind me anyway, but having the girls – passionate fans but not number freaks – made it warmer and a little less lonely in those early days, when I would be text-messaging TBF throughout the games. Miriam kept score, and we all shared a love of Jose Reyes and Cliff Floyd (and Mike Cameron to boot). They always wore player number shirts to each and every game, and we shared binoculars to stare at the antics in the dugout (“Look! Reyes is dancing!”) and to keep tabs at the various fights that broke out during the season (which always seemed to fascinate Julia more than the game). They are the only ones who I ever exchanged names with – we even got to know their parents (who sometimes took their seats).

ROW F, SEATS 1 & 2: These were owned by a father from New Jersey, tall and lanky, who had an endless supply of red-headed sons of various ages. So in addition to his two seats, he would always have extras for the other kids, who would sneak into the section when it was empty. Of particular note were the adorable twins who were about 13 or 14, always wore the uniform of jersey and khaki cargo shorts, and talked a mile a minute because they were so full of baseball that they just needed to talk about. They were an absolute joy to be around.

ROW F, SEATS 3 & 4: Shared by a father & son. The son was a Springsteen fanatic, which gave us much to talk about in the early days of the season. They liked their beer and they kept a running commentary of deep baseball knowledge. Just eavedropping gave me access to facts I never would have run across any other way. They were obnoxious as hell and equally amusing.

ALSO FURTHER DOWN ROW F: Two cousins, one tall and thin, who would move around when he was nervous. The other was slightly more portly, quieter. They were funny and sarcastic and always talked to me as though I actually knew something about baseball, gently tapping me on the hat in greeting each night as they walked behind me to their seats. Sometimes the latter gentleman would bring an attractive, jersey-wearing blonde woman – I eavesdropped on them a few games and although they swore they were ‘just friends,’ you know they are the kind of ‘just friends’ that will hopefully give up on that pretext some day because they are a match made in heaven.

These are the people who kept me company until TBF came home, who cheered with me and debated with me, who kept me company through extra innings and through rain delays and Yankees games and endless Trachsel outings, the lonely souls who were there in April and May when we had the section to ourselves, spreading out across multiple rows. And they are the people I regretfully said ‘so long’ to this week, exchanging handshakes and hugs and ‘see you in the post-season’. These are people I would never have run into, much less spent any time with, in the course of normal life. I can’t say we’re friends – we didn’t even exchange names for the most part – but they were part of my life over the past six months. I saw them more than I saw my parents, which is probably not something to be proud of, but it is what it is.

It is sad in a way for it to be the end of this part of the adventure. It seems so long ago that I drove out to Shea on a snowy Tuesday to pick out these seats. But there are more games ahead, and another year after that.

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