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Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

I wish I had heard about this earlier. Last night at the Washington Nationals baseball game it was Stitch and Pitch night.

"Stitch and Pitch" games, sponsored by the National NeedleArts Association, bring knitters to Major League Baseball games -- 23 of them this season. The events are designed to promote knitting, but they also have a profound effect on conversation in the grandstands. In most of RFK Stadium, the talk Monday night was of the Nats finally sweeping a series this season. But up in section 518, among stitchers, the conversation was . . . different…

Downstairs, near a barbecue stand in the stadium's concrete walkways, Barbara Paley, the NeedleArts Association's marketing expert, was explaining the cosmic meaning of Stitch and Pitch.

"The rhythms of baseball and the rhythms of the needle arts fit together perfectly," she said. "They're both timeless. There's no time limit."

I grew up watching baseball. I have a souvenir bat from the Houston Colt 45’s (that is pre-Astrodome days). I spent countless hours watching the Tulsa Oilers. The Oilers were a AAA minor league team for the St. Louis Cardinals so Tulsa was a Cardinals town. In 1967 my elementary school gathered the students into the gymnasium and hooked up a television on the stage so we could all watch the World Series games that were broadcast in the afternoon. By the time I was a teenager, a summer evening at the ballpark was the preferred social outing for my crowd. We watched some of the games, but we also did a lot of wandering around, giggling and whispering about the cute guy hawking Cokes behind first base.

As soon as my children were old enough to play, they started T-ball in the spring. However, the next fall they started soccer. Once they tasted the non-stop action of soccer, they really never considered baseball again. Before you know it, I was hooked on soccer too. It is constant action with no time-outs. The attacks and counter-attacks move at breakneck speed. It combines dazzling individual skills with precision teamwork. After watching soccer, going back to the slow, measured pace of baseball is really difficult for me. That is why the Stitch and Pitch games appeal to me. All that empty space while the pitcher and catcher alternately nod and shake their heads, while the coaches do their hand signal dance, and while we watch the sixth foul ball with a strike count of two can be filled with stitching. I have never learned to knit, but I love to crochet and cross-stitch. Rather than feeling impatient or bored, I will feel relaxed yet still productive.

There are no more official Stitch and Pitch games scheduled for the Washington Nationals, but I may make a game this season anyway. I will just remember to take my bag of yarn along as well. Stitch one! Stitch two! Stitch three!


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