a peek inside the fishbowl

09 Jul, 2019

Diamonds and hot dogs

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy|Ottawa

I am posting this from Thailand (!), reason being that I wanted to get it online before the bulk of summer gets away from us. If you are looking for something fun to do in Ottawa this summer, read on! 

I’m not a very sporty person but I’ve certainly played my share of organized sports. I was a competitive swimmer in middle school and into high school, and made the basketball, volleyball, and flag football teams in ninth grade. Of course, this list doesn’t include the hundreds of team games I played when I was a little kid. If we weren’t playing hide and seek until the street lights came on, we were playing road hockey, soccer, and of course, baseball.

This is what I was thinking about as I sat in the stands at a recent Ottawa Champions baseball game: The sun in your eyes, the dusty grass, the crack of the bat, and for me, the excitement and fear that a hard-driving ball was moments away from rocketing straight towards me and that me and my borrowed baseball mitt weren’t going to contain its power.

This is what it looked like when we arrived. Our group was early to meet some of the players:

Baseball in Ottawa

Outside of middle school games, I’ve never actually been to an actual baseball game here in Ottawa. Saturday June 23 was my first game ever – it was via a media invite – and I’m a little sad that it took me this long to get around to it, for many reasons!

I’ve been to Sens games and Redblacks games, not really as a fan but as an observer. 100% of the time I’ve lucked into tickets through my work or Mark’s. But Champions baseball is a whole kettle of fish for someone who (a) doesn’t like being crushed by crowds (b) enjoys spending time outdoors in an entertaining way that (c) doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. For those people – people like me – the Ottawa Champions is pretty near perfect.

Me at the Ottawa Champions baseball game

The experience here is surprisingly low tech. Advertising hasn’t taken over and viewers aren’t swamped in messaging and video and sponsorship and a deafening multisensory experience. In Sens games I often find myself distracted by the digital displays and the sheer busyness of it all. In fact, I catch myself watching the game on the screen when I should be looking at the ice. Someday I won’t be surprised to hear the following statement on the loudspeakers: “Stadium Air is Brought to you By Dyson: Clean Air! Clean fun!” It’s just too much.

The pace of baseball is so refreshing. It’s calmer; a tense stillness punctuated by a burst of excitement. It’s a flip phone vs. a Playstation. It’s kids playing with cardboard boxes and sidewalk chalk instead of a VR headset.

There is one screen is at the other end of the field and I had to squint to see it. There were occasional updates and birthday greetings over the loudspeaker without every other second being filled with a blast of a horn or a snippet of a song everyone liked 20 years ago.

They played Sweet Caroline (in FRENCH) as a singalong and local beer was available by the can for a fair price.

Is baseball better for my overstimulated brain? This is something I thought about as I ate my hot dog, enjoyed my cold beer, and watched a group of young men organize themselves on a diamond-shaped lawn as the sun slowly made its way across the sky.

It’s an inexpensive outing, and although this is not a glam word to describe it, it was all so accessible and I really liked this aspect of it. I saw all kinds of fans: young and old; groups of young men and gaggles of girls; families with little kids. I saw elderly people and several individuals in wheelchairs. The players made themselves readily available for autographs and high fives. Honestly, it’s a treat to see the world through this lens. It simply seems … friendly.

If you follow me on Twitter you might already know what happened during the game but it’s too good not to share here too. The organizer of the media event, Lyne from Ottawa Mommy Club, let our group know that Saturday night was “ladies night” and would we be interested in participating in something called the, er, Diamond Dig. I let her know I was up for anything and when we got there, a few of our group put our names down and got the scoop about what this actually was. To summarize Diamond Dig: each participant gets a plastic spoon and after the game there is a chance to dig – and win – a pair of diamond earrings. Alrighty! I’m in!

Nine innings later, a few members of my group were standing at the gates, laughing and stretching our “digging” muscles. To be honest, I still wasn’t completely sure about what was about to happen but here’s how it went down. While all of our backs were turned – there were about 30-40 of us – about 100 (I am guessing at this amount) small piles of “dirt” were spread over the baseball field. ONE of them had a golfball-sized plastic diamond buried in it and the goal was to find it using only our spoon. Whoever found the diamond got to swap it out for the prize, which was a pair of diamond earrings from Alyea Jewellers.

3, 2, 1… GO. I felt a surge of power through my legs and hoofed it to the closest pile. I leaned over, swept through the pile, nada. I stood up and looked around. Everyone else was digging near me so I decided to go long. I set my sights on a pile near the Champions mascot, dove for it, shoveled through it with my spoon and VOILA, the DIAMOND WAS THERE. The rest is a blur. I held it up triumphantly, channeling my internal Olympian. There was an announcement, there was cheering. I saw many happy faces, I hugged the mascot, people took photos, I babbled something into a microphone that was handed to me, a kind soul eased the plastic diamond out of the clutch of my hand and replaced it with a jewelry box, and then we left the field. There were more cheers and hugs as we made our way back to the suite. It was definitely a night to remember!

Me at the Ottawa Champions... Diamond Dig winner!!

Here’s a quick little video Sandi of Canadian Blog House grabbed of my triumph. (That’s her hollering by the way. You might want to check your volume before you hit play!)

I was the big winner at the Ottawa Champions game! (Video by Sandi of Canadian Blog House!)!

It was a very fun surprise and a really cool way to end a pretty great afternoon.

If you are looking for something to do this summer, you should make a point of checking the schedule for an Ottawa Champions game and trying it on for size if you haven’t already. It’s fun for the whole family, and who knows, maybe you’ll come home with valuable memories… like I did! :D

* My game day admission, snacks, and beverages, were covered by the Ottawa Champions but my views are my own.

 


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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!

 


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