NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
By Bethany Bradsher
The Immaculate Rejection
Maxed-out media facility
leads to a "Jungle" experience for the ages
All rights reserved.
GREENVILLE — On Monday morning, I made an 11th-hour attempt to secure a
credential for the regional final against South Carolina. I received a
prompt response assuring me that the press box was overfull and there was no
room for me.
It turned out to be the best rejection I’ve ever received.
I wouldn’t be attending the game the easy way, so I made it complicated.
Three of my kids wanted to come along, so I bought us general admission
tickets, and prepared my kids for their first expedition into the Jungle.
I’m not sure it was a decision that a parenting expert would agree with;
after all, they stayed up way too late, turned in sloppy homework on Tuesday
and went to bed dirty.
They also got to scream at the top of their lungs, exchange high fives with
instant friends and get swept along in a contagion of joy that they won’t
soon forget. In my parenting economy, that’s a pretty good tradeoff for a
messy math worksheet.
Early in the game, the kids seemed restless, asking me often what the score
was (the answer didn’t encourage them) and fixating mainly on the concession
But when Ryan Wood’s home run soared directly over our head in the fifth,
they were starting to get locked in. My 8-year-old son wandered to the front
rows of the jungle and someone gave him a “23” sign, which he held up
proudly whenever Brandon Henderson approached the plate.
When Devin Harris took his role in the script seriously and stepped up for
Part One of the Hollywood ending in the ninth, everything about that night
in the jungle started to take on a mystical quality. I even developed a
fondness for the half-full yellow trash can that I had been standing
directly behind all evening.
My kids found some vacant canvas chairs and planted themselves there, with
the blessing of a family in front of us that couldn’t quite stay off their
Extra innings meant decision time for me and the other parents in the
stadium. Had it been a normal night, my children would have all been in bed
by that time, and I would be relaxing in the recliner. As the 10th inning
opened, I gathered my two older kids – the voting majority – and told them
that there was no telling how long the game might go on. I asked them what
they wanted to do.
Then my 10-year-old daughter looked at me intently and said words that are
music to the ears of a sportswriter/mother: “I want to see what happens.”
So we stayed, and in the end even my 4-year-old seemed to know that he was
in the middle of something special, especially when we watched the Pirate
players do their own version of the Lambeau Leap (the Jungle Jump?) into the
arms of the Pirate Nation.
For me, the game marked the 20th anniversary of the day that I decided I
would be a sportswriter. Some people stumble upon their career path by
accident, but I was different. I set a course when I was 20, and I’ve stayed
on it ever since. I was inspired by two things in the spring of 1989: The
movie “Field of Dreams” and the farewell column that Frank Deford wrote for
Both the column and the film reminded me that sports are about more than
sports; they’re about family and forgiveness and triumph and joy and
restoration. And both inspired me to find my own voice to convey the
transcendence of these games.
Because of last night, I’ll have a ready answer when my children ask me,
“Why did you want to become a sportswriter?” I’ll bring them right back to
June 1, 2009, to our little community around the yellow trash can:
“Remember the way it
felt when you gave a high five to that man who was a stranger just
“Remember that wave
of happiness when Kyle Roller slid safely into home, how it seemed to
touch every person there and make them forget anything but that singular
That, I’ll tell them, is why I do this.
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06/17/2009 01:22:00 AM