America's pastime is said to be baseball.
The definition of a pastime is what someone does regularly for enjoyment rather than work, and the Class A baseball team in the Roanoke Valley of Virginia, the Salem Red Sox, certainly have become a big pastime for the residents of this beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains region.
I was pleased when a recent media tour sponsored by Geiger & Associates Public Relations and the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau sent me to see a game between their local team, an affiliate of their Boston namesakes and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Texas Rangers affiliate, on a breezy night this past Friday.
What I saw was a good crowd of people having a great time enjoying life.
The outcome of the game wasn't significant to a casual observer from out of town that wasn't a fan of either team. Indeed, it was the game experience that mattered. My fellow journalists who accompanied me to the game-Mike Whye, a freelance writer and photographer and former President of the Midwest Travel Writers Association, from Omaha, Nebraska, home to the College World Series, and Peter Wilson, a freelance writer who is a transplanted Englishman from the United Kingdom who has resided in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada for all of his adult life-and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves from the National Anthem that was sung by some talented local school girls through the seventh inning stretch.
In the meantime, we ate some good hamburgers, had some genuine ballpark hot dogs, sampled the local Roanoke Railhouse beer, all served by good-looking females clad in hot pants, met the team mascots, saw the local hometown favorites win by a score of 12-4, and were generally welcomed very hospitably by team management. We survived a few raindrops, saw a beautiful sunset behind us give way to a gorgeous rainbow over the outfield that was finally supplanted by a full moon that bathed Lewis Gale Field in natural light for the night.
Athleticism was on display throughout the game, with players from all over the USA, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela on display, chasing their dreams of playing big-time professional baseball. It was truly a cultural experience.
The stadium facility was top notch and very comfortable for a great fan experience. Everyone seemed to be having a good time enjoying themselves, which is, after all, the reason for a pastime.
Certainly, the Salem Red Sox are a real asset to Western Virginia. They give a sense of purpose to the residents and obviously draw visitors who spend money there.
Most of all, they are representative of what is right about our nation and our country as a whole. This team that plays in a wonderful setting of great national beauty is emblematic and representative of the community pride that takes pride in their region and welcomes friendly competition from their neighbors.
All in all, the Sox are a big hit in the Roanoke Valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Their economic impact goes far beyond what can be quantified. Take the time to make a stop along Interstate 81 if you're in the area and you will be treated to a great experience that will make you feel good and refreshed about life in America.