It was hard to tell who was more excited to go onto the Avista Stadium field to play catch: the young father or his daughter.
But for the record, she was the one who was skipping as she first felt the outfield grass under her feet. That’s when she realized it’s as soft as it is green.
It’s also where she realized that baseballs hurt when they don’t land in your glove and instead hit you in the chest.
Watching families play catch after Sunday afternoon Spokane Indians games is where happiness and baseball collides. And sometimes those collisions bring tears.
Playing catch with your dad almost always lives up to any expectations. Being able to do it on a professional baseball field on Father’s Day makes it even better. Especially if you’re wearing a pink tutu.
It’s hard to believe the Indians have only been doing these post-game catches for the past five or six seasons, because they already feel like a Spokane tradition. And like the best Spokane traditions – think Hoopfest or Bloomsday – it’s the inclusiveness that makes playing catch after a Sunday ballgame the best.
The outfield is loaded with every skill level you can think of, and every age you can imagine.
Dads in their 70s playing catch with sons in their 40s. Young girls with ponytails sticking out the back of their ball caps chasing after a dropped ball. The distinctive loud pop when a ball is thrown hard, next to the sound of the toddler laughing as he rubs the ball in the dirt of the outfield’s warning track.
You can’t help but notice all the high-fives when someone catches a ball for the first time. Ever. Or the fathers on their knees as their 2-year-old sons throw a baseball – usually nowhere near Dad. Or the little girl who has decided this grass is perfect for cartwheels.
The sound of hundreds of baseballs being caught at the same time is something you don’t get to hear many times in your life. But you should.
By the time the Indians recorded their last out – they fell to Boise, 9-3 – the line of fans to get on the field to play catch wrapped around the stadium. The outfield was completely filled twice. And no one minded the wait.
Before most of them left the field, they took photos. And the smiles show what this meant to them.
You can’t fake the happiness of playing catch with Dad. Especially on Father’s Day.
As for the young girl who raced her dad to get on the field, leaving on his shoulders, it’s hard to know whether she’ll remember this day. But her father will never forget it.