A Night at the Brick

by Nathan Gunter


I try to avoid Bricktown. “It’s for tourists,” I tell people. “If you really want fun in Oklahoma City, go to the Plaza District. Go to Paseo. Crown Heights. Hell, even the Gay Strip is more fun and less tacky. Or – tacky in a different way.”

Also, the parking is a nightmare. My best friends once got a $50 ticket for “parking too close to a dumpster” (read: not parking in one of the paid lots). The Green Door closed long ago, and most of the restaurants have more well-staffed and less-busy antecedents elsewhere in the city.

But it’s summer. I’m feeling charitable. Also, I have a day job, and last Saturday night it took me to Bricktown, where a group of incoming graduate students were invited to enjoy hot dogs and a free game. I was there to take pictures.

I was kicking myself for volunteering for a work event on a Saturday night. I arrived in a foul mood and immediately assumed I’d be told I couldn’t bring my giant, hulking camera into the stadium. I almost gave up and turned around, but somehow, as I was writing the “apology” e-mail in my head, I found myself in line to have my ticket taken, and then, miraculously, inside – camera and all.

An hour or so later my official duties as photographer were no longer needed, and the first pitch was being thrown out. My husband had accompanied me, and rather than find our seats with the graduate students, we sat on a bench underneath the scoreboard.

It’s been brutally hot in Oklahoma this summer – June has felt like August when it hasn’t been flooding – but a perfect summer breeze washed through the stadium and over us as the sun set. Though we were across the field from it, we could smell the food stands – popcorn, hot dogs and beer, and, from Coach’s, pizza, wings, more beer.

The Redhawks were playing the Omaha Blue Jays. The game never got exciting, and a dinner invitation from an old friend extracted us from the scene in the sixth inning. But watching the rhythm of baseball, and the small crowd around us under the scoreboard. A group of pre-adolescent boys were throwing a ball around. A man was hanging out there with his infant child, who it seemed had just learned to walk. She staggered like a drunkard around the center field fence. Below us, people had their feet up on the empty seats in front of them. At the bar, a crowd of graduate students sipped beer, made jokes, and cheered when one of the Redhawks rounded home.

Baseball is slow, measured, laid-back, like summer, with occasional moments of such great intensity that you jump to your feet and start to cheer before you’ve fully grasped what’s happening; the crack of a ball, the sound of the catch in a glove, little clouds of dust kicked up by cleats and glowing in the last bits of sunlight.

Baseball is American poetry. Is that cheesy? Oh, well.

So, we left in the sixth inning. But I’m going to try to spend a little more time in Bricktown this summer than I’m used to.