Take Me to the Ballpark

trophy.jpgIt's hard to believe that baseball season is about to begin again. I see bits and pieces on the news about players reporting to Spring training. I see photos of fathers and sons dressed up in their player's favorite jersey, watching an early practice, hoping to get an autograph. The excitement is building of those summer nights at the ballpark; that all-American warm, fuzzy feeling most folks associate with baseball.

My thoughts are far from warm and fuzzy, more like torture and terror. On October 30, 2007 at 2:30 am, my phone rings. I struggle to find the phone, wondering who died. I hear a voice "Hello, this is Scheduling, can I speak to Laura." All I can say is "yes?" "Laura, we have a trip for you. You are going to fly to Denver and then to Boston and back to Atlanta today." Excuse me, it's 2:30 am, is this a joke? When did we start flying to these destinations in the middle of the night? I'm not sure what I said but I get an answer.

"The Boston Red Sox won the World Series a few hours ago and by the way, you are the Flight Attendant in charge." (I’ve since learned that no team would jinx their chances of winning by booking the plane home before they actually clinch the trophy.)

I know there are people who would kill to be in my shoes! I know it's part of history and how lucky I am. I know, I know!! But I don't care about baseball and I've only gotten two hours of sleep. Above and beyond all of that, I am trying to begin to imagine the magnitude of the food. Do you have any idea what and how much major league sports players eat?

They don't get the usual 1 oz. portion of chicken that you are familiar with, they get a 12 oz. portion along with a 2-pound potato and an appetizer of 6 jumbo shrimp with a half of a cheesecake piled on a tray. Add a large glass of ice, a 16-ounce bottle of Gatorade, put a tray in each hand and deliver with a smile. These folks don't sit; they don't fit in the seats, they like to stand in the aisles so you have to weave in between people and pray you don't get elbowed and dump the food all over yourself or one of them.

That’s on a normal charter. This is a World Series Champions charter and I am in charge. I don't have time to do any research. I don't know who the big players are, the names of the managers or much less who owns the team. Sometimes that can be embarrassing. The only player on the Sox I knew was Big Papi, who I met on another charter flight a few years ago and won’t soon forget. Another time I asked a very famous owner of an NFL team if he was the cameraman? He WAS holding a camera. I have learned not to assume.

I got to the airport around 4:30am. I meet my crew and they are as clueless as I am. We take off for Denver in the largest airplane in the fleet with 10 or so Marketing representatives who are there to make sure the operation runs smoothly. I am shown the manifest. There will be 200 passengers, including players, family, managers, owners and press. There will be 3 choices of hot appetizers on the ground, 7 choices of meals, 3 choices of ice cream, 10 choices king size candy, 10 choices of various chips. There will be 20 cases of water, 10 cases of Gatorade and I am only on the 2nd page of a 5-page document.

redsox3.jpgI decided it was best that I take a nap on the empty plane headed to Denver to pick up the team who just won the World Series. I am not feeling the glamour. I smile. Perhaps I will wake up and discover it was only a dream. It wasn’t.

Everything went the way I expected: it was crowded, non-stop and exhausting. The only difference was the presence of the giant, heavy, shiny trophy being passed from player to player…and the mass of fans waiting at the airport to welcome the team home.

Did I get my photo taken with the trophy? What do you think?


Laura grew up in a small southern town in Georgia on a cotton and pecan farm where life centered around family, friends and good food. She has lived in Atlanta for 20 years and has been a Flight Attendant for a major airline for 18 years, traveling the world in search for the next best meal.