We were running late that day, which is par for the course for our family whenever it involves my husband and his addiction to finding a parking spot that involves the least amount of walking humanly possible. We were running into the entrance, pulling our youngest along behind, when we got stopped by an employee. Not surprising since we were dragging our six year old by her arm while we argued in our not-so-inside voices. But before I could explain, she asked if we would like to participate in a game between innings. My husband and I shot suspicious glances at each other, but she continued. She told us that we would all get to go down onto the field. That's when our kids weighed in on the decision with their excited, hopeful little faces, and we had no choice but to agree. We were told to meet her after the third inning.
We didn't enjoy one minute of those first three innings. We were nervous and both of us regretted what we had just agreed to do, but technically we didn't even know what we had just agreed to do. My husband finally pointed out that this was no big deal. It's not like we'd know anybody there so who cares what we do in front of thousands of strangers. Shortly after he said that, a couple we attended church with arrived late and squeezed into our isle to find their seats. He said, “Okay, those are bad odds.”
When the time came, we slipped out of our row as casually and discreetly as two large adults and three fighting children could. Which is to say that there was nothing casual and/or discreet about it, and by the time we escaped from the death glares of the people whose feet and legs we'd just trampled, our fellow spectators were practically applauding our early departure, hoping never to see us again. Little did they know.
We were quietly led through a series of corridors until we reached the bowels of Fifth Third Stadium. When we got to the bottom, there was another couple looking equally as nervous and we immediately felt better. Misery always loves company, and whatever it was we were about to do, we should only have fifty percent of the crowd's attention.
We were given clothes to change into. I had to wear a t-shirt that said, “Number One Mom.” Cool. I just assumed that my husband would have a t-shirt that said, “Number One Dad.” So imagine my shock when I came out of the dressing area to find him in a giant diaper with a bonnet on his head and carrying a huge baby bottle. His face was beet red and he was NOT a happy baby. Uh oh.
As gently as he could, my husband lowered himself onto the little wagon. The crowd was already laughing and so was the Dragon Team who were in their positions on the field. In a panicked voice he told me he thought he heard a cracking sound. No way big boy. That's an indestructible Radio Flyer.
The race was over and everything became a blur of activity as workers rushed out to repair the field for the next inning, while my husband angrily yanked his diaper and bonnet off.
It was finally time to return to our seats, regain anonymity, and blend back into the crowd to enjoy the rest of the game. No such luck. When we got back to our seats, our entire section gave us a standing ovation that lasted an awkward amount of time. Apparently, these same people forgot that a mere twenty minutes ago they hated our very existence and cursed the day we were born for interrupting their game and crushing their toes. When the game resumed we joked that our fifteen minutes of fame were over. What we didn't know was that minute sixteen awaited just around the corner.
The giant screen was positioned directly behind us, so we didn't realize what was happening until we heard that familiar roar of the crowd. We slowly turned to see a giant picture of my husband in his bonnet and diaper sitting in the middle of the curled up wagon with the sub title “Man of Steel” across the bottom of the giant screen. He'd just been awarded the title of 'Fan of the Game'. His celebrity extended even further when the clip of our race made the highlight reel and anyone attending a Dragon's Game for the next several years got to relive the whole thing.