I finally made it to Pensacola for a Blue Wahoos baseball game last week.
For those of you who might not know, the Blue Wahoos comprise the Cincinnati Reds’ AA Minor League Baseball affiliate that moved to Pensacola last season.
The Wahoos beat the Chattanooga Lookouts 4-3 in extra innings. Ironically, the Lookouts are the AA team of my favorite Major League club, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Wednesday was one of those nights when I couldn't help thinking, "What if?"
The simple question has to do with former Crestview High School baseball teammates and 2006 graduates Anthony Brown and Blake Dean. Brown played three years in the Cincinnati organization. Dean walked away from baseball after two years with the Dodgers.
For a few moments I thought about what it would have been like to see the former Bulldog teammates reunited on the professional stage.
But we don't always get what we hope for in life.
I also thought about how my dad would have enjoyed the game with me, as would my granddaddy, Dad's dad. Granddaddy, who died at age 79 in 1972, instilled a love for baseball in me that remains strong to this day.
And I've shared most of my favorite baseball moments with my dad. We were even present at Tim McCarver Stadium in Memphis, Tenn., when Bo Jackson picked up his first extra-base hit as a professional baseball player.
Dad, whose health has improved in recent weeks, and Granddaddy were with me in spirit Wednesday night. Even without the former Bulldogs on hand, my first time at Bayfront Stadium was a great experience.
It's easy to understand why Baseballparks.com named Bayfront Stadium the 2012 Ballpark of the Year.
The park sits on Pensacola Bay, so long homeruns over the left-field wall could find the water.
The shiny new stadium has no covered seats, which on a rainy or hot day might present some problems. At least you don't have to worry about missing a thing as you stand in line for a hotdog or soft drink; concession stands are within the field’s sight distance.
The stadium feels fresh with towering palm trees surrounding the outside of the park. And you won't find any catacomb concourses running beneath the stands as you do in older stadiums.
Parking around the stadium is plentiful. The stadium lot itself charges $10 per car. Right across the street parking is $3.
Free parking also is available along some downtown Pensacola streets. And a free shuttle service is available for those who don't want to walk back to their car.
I'm already looking forward to my next trip to Bayfront Stadium. And as the old song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” says, "I don't care if I ever get back.”
After one trip to a Blue Wahoos game, you'll be hooked too.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.