Considering that I come from a long line of New York Yankees fans, I geek out pretty dramatically about (legitimately) storied sports franchises. I’m also a big believer in checking out the home stadiums of these teams—sometimes even if there’s no game being played—just to glimpse the hallowed ground.
As a parent, I’ve tried to incorporate these passions into many of our family trips. Even if the girls don’t “get” why we’re visiting these places, I like to expose them to my interests by bringing them along.
This all explains why one of the girls and I went to a cricket match this weekend.
Our flat, in the Maida Vale neighborhood of London, is a short walk from Lord’s Cricket Ground, one of the most celebrated cricket arenas in all of England. The arena is in St. John’s Wood (where The Beatles recorded “Abbey Road”). The earliest known match played there was in 1814. That means that pitch has seen a lot of history.
I admit it: I don’t know much about cricket beyond what I’ve learned from the Lord’s website over the last few days. I do, however, know that many locals are mad about the sport, and I figured that a stadium that’s been around since the early 1800s has got to be a pretty special place.
(It turns out Lord’s is known as “The Home of Cricket.” Go Figure.)
So I checked it out for the one-day price of 5 pounds. With R, the baby (who got in free). In the middle of a lazy, rainy Saturday.
Our visit required some serious patience. When we arrived the first time, right around noon, the ticket-taker informed us the teams were “having a luncheon,” and that play would resume in a bit (to kill time, we headed to a nearby playground around the corner). Later, after a “luncheon” of our own (lesson learned: salt beef > pastrami), we returned, only to find that play was in a brief rain delay.
Finally, around 1:15, play resumed, and we went in.
Because it was the fourth day of a 4-day match (in cricket, teams play for multiple days at a time), and because the aforementioned weather was horrendous, the place was deserted. R and I took advantage of the empty seats by standing right near the sidelines, as close to the action as we could get.
As we watched the home team (Middlesex) pummel visiting Nottinghamshire, I tried to explain to R what was happening on the field. My “lesson” included details on bowlers, batsmen, wickets and other strange phrases I’m not sure I completely understand (such as “innings,” which means exactly what innings do in baseball, but apparently always has an “s” on the end, even when the word is singular).
The kid’s favorite part: Watching the bowlers wind up to deliver the ball. She also really liked the giant weather vane on the east side of the stadium and a giant clock across the pitch.
We lingered to watch a dozen points—45 minutes in all. Then we had to get home for nap time.
I spent much of the night wondering how much of our day at Lord’s R would remember. I got my answer this morning when she woke up. As I picked her up out of her crib, she spit out her pacifier and asked me, “Daddy, go see cricket today?” That alone was worth the price of admission. And then some.
What kinds of sports experiences do you seek out when traveling with kids?