Oaxaca: Take Me Out To The Ball Game

baseballHeadsIn Oaxaca we rented a house share through AirBnB that was just a few blocks from the zocalo. Passing through an unassuming door on the street we entered a passageway that led to a small complex of houses belonging to two sisters, Sylvia and Olga, and their families.

Soon after we arrived we mentioned to Olga that we were thinking of going to the baseball to see the Guerrerros de Oaxaca (Oaxaca Warriors). It turned out that the rest of the family are big baseball fans and were planning to go to the game that weekend as well. So, on Sunday afternoon we climbed into the family car and were driven out to Eduardo Vasconcelos Stadium.

Oaxaca had got through to the playoffs and were in a series of games against the Tigres de Quintana Roo. It was 2-2 in the series and Oaxaca needed to win some of their home games before going to Quintana Roo for the deciding games later in the week.

We masked our disappointment that there were no foam hands with pointy fingers to buy and threw ourselves into the game. About three balls in I asked Vicki, who has expert status by virtue of having gone to games in the states before, what was going on. “That guy there, he’s the pitcher and he throws the ball really hard at the batting guy there ……”. I was soon an expert.

Sylvia was an eager participant and her contorted facial expressions and vigorous arm waving were as good an indication of how well we were doing as actually watching the game. She always seemed to call ball/foul before it was on the board and she knew all the players. She kept on pointing out the one guy and telling me that he was a big player from the US and one of their stars.

Food vendors walked up and down selling various meat products, and Vicki developed a minor obsession with the cheerleaders. In between balls the loudspeakers would play a segment of a tune and the crowd would all join in, with us giving it our best shot. Often this would mean that our pitcher would throw the ball just when the crowd were all midway singing something mildly threatening, albeit jovial (I hope) at the opposing team. One of the tunes involved a hacking motion and we got fairly adept at spotting that one and sort of joining in.

Nobody said “bottom of the ninth and the bases are loaded”. Well, I might have done. As it happened, Oaxaca won the game in the bottom of the ninth and there was a restrained jubilation in the crowd. Rightly so, as they went on to lose the next two games and so lost the series 4-3. Quintana Roo went on to win the finals and the whole Mexican Baseball Shebang for 2015.

This was at the start of Vicki feeling ill although if she wasn’t feeling well at the time she hid it well. So, it’s a bittersweet experience looking back on our baseball excursion. It seems so very long ago and yet it was probably the last time we just enjoyed ourselves on the trip. Sitting there, next to our hosts, cheering on the local team, looking like a pair of lost gringos in the middle of all the Mexican families and thinking that we were just settling into a groove.

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