Thursday, August 11, 2005

The baseball rehearsal dinner

My wife and I were worried that the rehearsal dinner (at an Everett AquaSox baseball game) was going to be too good. We thought people might show up at the ceremony or reception and think "gee, that was okay, but were you at that baseball game?" Well, thank goodness the ceremony and reception also kicked butt, because the rehearsal dinner was breathakingly awesome.

The main issue (as it was the whole weekend) was traffic. The dinner was supposed to start at 5:30, but nobody made that...mostly, people arrived at 5:45-5:50 or so. No hour was pretty long for grilled chicken anyhow. People gathered their food (including two strangers who then sat under our tent while we made the toasts and gave out weird is that?).

I hadn't planned my toasts to my brother, college buddy, or parents--figured I'd just speak from the heart--but I should have prepared something. I was completely at a loss for words. How do you thank the people you're closest to for a lifetime of love while being pithy and funny? I fell short, but I think they all got the message.

Swankette wanted to get her arm warmed up for her first pitch, but I'd forgotten our gloves. Fortunately, one of the best men brought a pair of gloves, and someone else had a we ducked out of the tent and played a little catch.

Then, the waiting. We had to sit aside and wait for her first pitch and my anthem singing. It's easy to get nervous while waiting there. Swankette started to get cold feet...not about the marriage, but about throwing from the rubber. The previous first pitchers (the AquaSox give out a LOT of first pitches!) were throwing form the grass in front of the mound. Swankette turned to me and said:

"Do you think I should throw from the rubber?"
You should do whatever you want, dear.
"No. I need your opinion. Should I throw from the rubber?"
Do what you'd like.
"Seriously! Am I ready?"

I finally suggested she walk to the base of the mound, and if it looked easy, she could step back to the rubber. She did that...and wound up splitting the difference, pitching from the mound, but not as far back as the rubber. It reached catcher J.B. Tucker on the fly. WOOHOO! Not bad for someone who was only throwing 45 feet a few months ago.

The catcher takes a photo with first-pitch deliverers, and Swankette had said she'd say: "This is my last night as a single woman." I would have even accepted a last quick grope--but Swankette wound up saying nothing.

Then my anthem. It went quite well. Joe, thankfully, had reminded me to keep my hand on my heart. I remembered to take my hat off and put it there, held the microphone in my left hand, gave myself the liberty of a few phrase-ending fermatas (fermati?), quieted down on "gave proof" and smiled on "flag was still there," and then got to "land of the free."

I'd promised myself I'd go up the fourth on "free." But I was wondering if I could pull it off.

When I started "free," I thought I'd not go up...but then I figured, what the hell, when will I sing an anthem at a pro ballgame again? Went up the fourth. Hit the note. Cool. There was a minor hiccup getting off the note, but nobody says they noticed.

My sister says my autistic nephew recognized my voice and just went bonkers.

I have a picture of me singing with the whole party in the stands in the background. My friends and family are reverentially looking at the flag...except for my mom and dad, who are watching me. It's a wonderful, frame-it, keep-it-forever picture.


So then comes the ballgame.

I never knew this, but the gazillion promotions that people go on the field for? If you're one of the groups at the ballpark, you get preferential treatment for those. So wedding people were on the field constantly!

First came my brother Dan and his five-year-old son Henry. They were put in competition with a stranger in "Fishin' for Tuition." Henry had to throw plastic fish towards Dan, standing 15 feet away, and Dan had to catch them in a fishing net. Henry said he'd throw them as quickly as he possibly could. He definitely did that...but he wasn't looking at his dad. So while my brother was standing east of Henry, Henry leaned over the fish bucket and chucked fish after fish over his shoulder...NORTH. Everyone started was so cute. At the end, all 49 of us started chanting "HEN-RY! HEN-RY!" Which got most of the stadium chanting it as well.

My brother later reported this exchange:

HENRY: Why is everyone saying my name?
DAN: I guess they're just really happy to see you out there!
HENRY: Then why aren't they saying your name?

Next came a remote-control car race. My Uncle Rick had to manipulate his car from third to first and back to third, and if he beat a stranger, he'd win $100. Well, both guys had trouble getting out of the box, but the stranger got out to about shortstop, then turned right a little bit. While he was trying to correct himself, Uncle Rick T-BONED HIM. Hard. Then literally ran him over. This disabled the stranger's vehicle, and Uncle Rick walked away with a hundred-dollar bill.

They selected the Dad of Swank to play "What's In The Car?" It's like "Let's Make a Deal". They give him an AquaSox hat and offer to have him trade it for "what's in the car," which could be good or bad. His clue was "plastic." He elected to go with what was in the car...and it was a $50 gift certificate to Bucca di Beppo's restaurant. Good choice!

Patrick, a seven-year-old friend of the family, ran the bases against the mascot! Patrick was adorable as usual...won. This extends the mascot's eight-year losing streak.

Sweetheart of the Game? My wife, of course. She got flowers from an Everett flower shop. This was the second time and second Northwest League ballpark at which she was named Sweetheart of the Game.

Our buddy Monika won the movie trivia contest by correctly identifying an audio clip from Some Like It Hot. That's a couple of free pay-per-view-cable movies, ice cream if ever she returns to Everett, and something else. And that's not one they gave to us...Monika won it fair and square!

So all of this is happening, and everyone's laughing, joking, scoring the game on the scorecards we'd made up as gifts (or doing the word search, crossword, and maze we'd put on the back of the scorecard). A Tri-City pitcher comes and throws 13 pitches...12 of them balls. Tri-City wins anyway.

Then--the fireworks. The best fireworks show I've ever seen at a minor league game, and I've seen a few. It was beautiful, the music was was a FANTASTIC way to transition from the game into the wedding day.

I kept saying to anyone who would listen that this was exactly what we had in mind from the very beginning. It completely set the mood for the weekend, reflected our personality, gave people a chance to hang out together and was perfect. The whole weekend was unforgettable...but this was unforgettable and completely unique to our weekend. We'll treasure this experience, therefore, in a unique way.


Blogger Joe said...

As I recall, Swankette was the _only_ first-pitch thrower to get the ball to the catcher on the fly. In fact, the car dealer who threw out the "official" first pitch wasn't even close...

At some point, over on the edge of the group, it became "Quote Bull Durham" night. Or at least it did for me and Greg. We had plenty of chances to yell "lollygaggers"...

The game was awesome. The reception was a blast. And the ceremony itself was deeply moving and wonderful. Yup, pretty much perfect.

5:38 AM  
Blogger Mindy said...


3:15 PM  

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