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Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks Staff 12/30/2006 I am a novice baseball game spectator. I never watch the game on television, because I find it boring; but I attended my first professional game

I am a novice baseball game spectator. I never watch the game on television, because I find it boring; but I attended my first professional game last year.

Even though I grew up a little more than two hours from Cincinnati, I never saw the Reds play until I lived in Delaware. Bobby, my husband, and I drove up to Philadelphia for the evening to watch them play the

Phillies. He loves the game, having played it while growing up and in high school, and he even got an offer to play in college. He didn’t want to miss the chance to see our home state team. I, on the other hand, just wanted to see athletic men in tight pants.

Just kidding.

I had a great time at the game; so I was excited to check out my first Norfolk Tides game last month. Unfortunately, it was short and rushed. I arrived late because of work, and the folks I met there had to leave early, so I think I got to see about five innings. It was scorching hot, even though the sun had gone down; but the Tides Dog, Cracker Jacks and huge soda made for a great dinner.

This past Saturday, though, I had the chance to experience fully a complete game, and I had a blast. My sister and her boyfriend came to visit for about a week, and Derek (the boyfriend) wanted to check out a game. He saw online that a Beatles tribute band would be performing a pre-game concert and knew instantly we’d want to see it. I come from a family of huge Beatles fans.

The group, Beatlemania Again!, was impressive, even though, as Bobby joked, one looked a little more like Howard Stern than John Lennon. They sounded pretty authentic and made a number of costume changes, taking us from the early days with the black suits to the psychedelic colors of the Magical Mystery Tour and beyond. And they played most of my favorites, including Norwegian Wood.

The entertainment didn’t end there. The Tides’ biggest fan, Rip Tide, a big blue creature with a baseball for a nose, played pranks and danced around.

My sister observed that she and Rip Tide shared nearly identical rear ends, and I, confused, said, “What, blue and furry?”

He was later joined by Reggy, a goofy purple mascot, presented by WHRO, who entertained the crowd with various shenanigans throughout the the innings.

With so much to see, it made me wonder what most fans watch more, the game or the antics?

Pitcher Oliver Perez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, helping the Tides beat the Charlotte Knights 1-0.

They made a slick double play in the fourth inning, but, to my disappointment, no home runs.

But plenty of foul balls came our way, as we were sitting along the third base line. Bobby warned me to stay alert, lest I get knocked in the head with one. But late in the game, I was talking, looking away from the hitter, when everyone around me began to shout and rise out of their seats. I ducked and put my hands over my head because I didn’t see the hit, and wasn’t sure if the ball was coming right for us. Turns out, it was just the crowd doing the wave.

I like the atmosphere at baseball games, and the Tides game was no exception.

Harbor Park is a great venue, and Saturday was a perfect night for a game n not too hot, with a warm breeze coming off the Elizabeth River.

I like to watch the people mill about, carrying big hot dogs and even bigger beers. It is easy to understand why baseball is America’s pastime; you definitely see all walks of life. From the hoochie mama in hiphuggers (is she expecting to pick up a player after the game?) to children, of course, to the grandma gulping a 24 ounce beer, coming up for breath with a foam mustache, baseball games appeal to everyone and Hampton Roads is lucky to have a team.

McKnight-Taylor is a staff writer with the News-Herald. Contact her at 934-9617, or ashley.taylor@suffolknewsherald.com