Taking home the flag

The wall of memory. When I go out to the ballgame, I always, without fail, get a program. I look through the program, the lineups, the stats, information about the team, and if necessary, the league.

I’ve done that whether I’ve gone to a Major League Baseball game or a game in the minors or the college and summer collegiate baseball ranks.

If there is one more thing I try to pick up, it’s a pennant. The pennants, for the most part, are 30 inches by 12 inches.

I didn’t start doing this until I realized I had done this on my own without admitting I had this collection. So, in one particular instance, I attended the Frontier League All-Star Game when the Kalamazoo Kings were existence, but I don’t have a pennant from the game, or of the Kings. Thankfully, the Northwoods League has a team, the Growlers, that call Homer Stryker Field home. One day, maybe next year or down the road more, I’ll get a Growlers pennant when I take in a game and have that ballpark on the wall.

I have pennants that nearly wallpaper a long section of my basement, the future sports room once the wiring is completed. Side note: Once the wiring is done, it’ll give us an opportunity to breathe life into that portion of our home that is currently unused.

Obviously, I have pennants for the big four professional teams that call Detroit home – the Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons and Lions. I picked up pennants at the home park of the West Michigan Whitecaps (low-A), Lansing Lugnuts (low-A), Toledo Mud Hens (AAA) as well as the Midwest League All-Star Game when it was in Lansing.

Once I realized this collection was coming together, and it is displayed, I had to go back and purchase some pennants. I did that with the University of Minnesota, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.

I had to do that with some of the MLB stadiums I’ve been to, like the White Sox and Devil Rays. I got a pennant of Youppi! in Montreal and another in Toronto.

This project has been a tad difficult to do, though. My in-laws took my kids to Disney World when my son was 1, and at the time, I took in a couple of Florida State League games. I wasn’t able to get a Brevard County Manatees pennant at the time, but I did get a Daytona Cubs pennant. So, from time to time, I would contact the Manatees for a pennant, and sure enough, I now have one.

The same thing happened two winters ago when I attended a Grand Rapids Griffins game with my family. My son’s hockey team was on the bench of the Griffins when they were going through warmups, which was really cool. But the Griffins didn’t have a pennant for sale at their team store. It took going to a yard sale in our town to get that pennant.

I believe I am only missing just one pennant – that of the Kalamazoo Kings. All of the other visiting parks and stadiums are there, represented on the wall of our basement.

That is, except for Western Michigan University. Yuck.

The Broncos, or as my son calls them, “The My Little Ponies,” will eventually go on a section the wall inspired by the now closed SBX, or Student Book Exchange, that was in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

When I attended school there, now 15 years ago (wow, 15 years ago I graduated college. That’s pretty damn cool), the SBX would have a pennant for each of the schools my Central Michigan University Chippewas played against during that year. So, behind the bar will be the 12 opponents of the Chippewas for the year. The cool thing is that the schools of the Mid-American Conference will get reused from time to time and year to year. And some nonconference opponents, such as Michigan State, will revolve on and off the schedule. So, a healthy base will be built for rotating the pennants. I’ll just need to pursue pennants for one-time opponents.

Another side note: Presbyterian? Really? C’mon Chippewas, schedule something better than that. They don’t sell pennants. Go get someone like North Dakota State. That’s way easier.

I thought maybe I’d be able to get that segment of the wall of pennants completed next calendar year, but I have my doubts. We’ll see.

As a final side, I also picked up pennants for special events I’ve been to, or near, like the MLB Civil Rights game in Cincinnati (bring it to DETROIT!), the aforementioned Midwest League All-Star Game, the 2005 MLB All-Star Game (autographed, thanks to my mother-in-law), the 2014 NHL Winter Classic, the memory of Tiger Stadium and the 2003 Detroit Tigers home opener.

I do have many, many pennants hanging in the basement, but there’s also something great about it: I have room for more, just as soon as I’m able to go out to another ballgame.

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