By Bruce Stambaugh
I had looked forward to this day for a long, long time.
A reporter friend of mine asked me if I wanted to accompany him to a Cleveland Indians game with seats in the press box. Big kid that I am, it was a lifetime dream of mine to do so.
For years I had wondered what it would be like to sit in the press box to watch a baseball game. Last week, my dream came true with an unexpected bonus.
To get me through the press gate, my reporter friend, who will remain nameless for professional reasons, listed me as his photographer. Good thing I had taken my camera along.
My excitement settled soon after attaching the yellow press tag to my belt loop. Our planned first stop on my behind-the-scenes tour of Progressive Field was the playing field to watch batting practice and mingle with the players and coaches. But this game was the day game of a day-night double-header. There was no batting practice.
Since I was actually standing on the playing field I wasn’t all that disappointed. My friend took my picture in front of the Indians dugout and by the Indians on deck circle, which is directly in front of where I usually sit as a fan.
We headed into the Indians dugout. I sat in the shade on the bench a few feet from some player who had completely shaved his head. It was Justin Masterson, the starting pitcher for the Indians.
Soon we made our way down the tunnel and up the ramp to the players’ clubhouse. We rubbed shoulders with several players, but passed them without speaking according to media-player etiquette. All in all, I found the locker room to be much less luxurious than I had envisioned.
I had a similar reaction when we entered the media dining room. It was spacious, but reminded me of a college cafeteria, only with a nice view. We signed in and paid for the buffet. Thoughts of the media being coddled began evaporating. Once I tasted the food, the memories of college continued.
Across the hall was the press box, curving left and right high above and behind home plate. Here, too, I was surprised. Instead of plush, I saw plain. The press box was more functional than cushy. There was plenty of room to work, but it really wasn’t the best view from the third row where we were assigned to sit.
It was unexpectedly quiet, too. With deadlines to meet, the reporters simply minded their own business and watched the game.
The game moved right along until 1:51 p.m. when the press box itself began to move. I felt an obvious swaying east to west. I asked my friend if he felt it. Indeed he did.
Other reporters swiveled their heads with astonished looks on their faces. The press box rocked and rolled for 30 seconds, stopped briefly, then began again, only not as severely nor as long.
Someone checked on the Internet and said that the Pentagon was being evacuated because of an earthquake centered in Virginia. Here I was in my first and probably only major league press box and I had also experienced my first earthquake.
I had always wondered what a quake felt like. Now I knew. I felt both nauseated and exhilarated.
With those lifetime experiences realized together, I happily took my usual seat at the next Indians game I attended.