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Minor league ballgame for a major experience

In the $3 program for the Queens Kings vs. the Pittsfield Mets game Sunday, Mastercard ran a full-page ad depicting a parent and child at the ball park. It was the company's popular style, enumerating the prices for the various components of having a good time at the game, ending with, "Introducing him to the non-video version of the game: priceless."

I have to give credit to Mastercard (regardless of how much credit they choose to give me) - these ads ring true, and a case in point was Sunday's game.

We were able to come as close to a professional ball game as we could without playing in one. (And so what if it's "only" minor league -many of these players will be in the majors in the near future).

And all the kids and adults at the game not only were able to get a close, unobstructed view of the action no matter where they sat, but also could interact with the goings-on - in the pre-computer sense of the word.

Most stood up on the benches, yelling and flailing their arms, when the Kings lobbed rolled-up Queens Kings T-shirts over the fence for anyone who could catch them. (Unfortunately, they didn't lob any balls over the fence, losing to Pittsfield 8-5, but that's another story.)

Kids, and a few adults, too, excitedly gathered around the Kings' mascot, "Elvis," who also gave away Kings hardballs to kids lucky enough to have birthdays around the day of the game. Many of the young fans also got the chance to run around the bases at inning breaks.

Most of the kids seemed to spend more time getting $2 franks, $2 Pepsis, $2.50 nachos, and all the other staples of a ball game, than actually watching the game, but that's OK. The song says, "Buy me some peanuts and Crackerjacks," not "Make me sit still and watch everything from beginning to end."

And, of course, it didn't matter that the Kings lost. The whole idea of the afternoon was the yelling, the food, the T-shirt throws, the up-close and personal dynamics without any of the high stakes, big money, and often bitterness of the majors.

Whether it's in Jamaica, Queens or as scheduled for next year, in Coney Island, Brooklyn, there'll always be a place for this kind of baseball.

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