One of my favorite elements of urban life is the odd juxtapositions often visible on the streets. Last Saturday offered one of my favorite mash-ups. On one side of the World’s Fair Park, as a part of the East Tennessee History Fair, teams of vintage baseball players enjoyed a version of America’s pass-time even more relaxed than its current incarnation.
On the other side of the World’s Fair Park, in the Holiday Inn Exhibition Center, a Tattoo Convention moved in a parallel universe. I only found out about it because a young woman asked for directions as I walked to the baseball game. I guessed it might be on the bottom floor of the Holiday Inn, and so it was.
I’d seen the article about the base ball game in the Metro Pulse (hey, both “Metro Pulse” and “base ball” are two words! :-)) and it caught my attention. I’d been invited to games at the Ramsey House, but hadn’t made it there. According to the article in Metro Pulse, some people have taken the train to games. That sounds like a very cool afternoon jaunt.
It seemed very odd watching the game played by 1860s rules which include no called balls or strikes and balls caught on one bounce are outs. Runners crossing home plate and scoring are to ring a bell as they cross. Odd phrases to our ears abound and many in the crowd seem as steeped in the tradition as those playing it.
Last Saturday’s crowd many have been a bit more of a novice bunch. I suspect many, like myself, had never seen the game played. I’d actually worried that no one would make the trek from Krutch Park over to the game, though I needn’t have worried as a hundred or so spectators lined first and third base sides of the field and sat on the hillside just beyond right field.
When last I looked, Holston was beating Nashville, but I’m not sure how it came out. After watching several innings, I was never quite able to make what happened on the scoreboard match what I thought I was seeing on the field. I’m sure I would understand more of it after watching for a while. I did enjoy the slow pace and the sportsmanship. I find live baseball to be a very relaxing way to spend a summer afternoon. Vintage base ball seems even more so. I’m going to try to get to Ramsey House to see a game.
As I walked back across the park, I thought I’d check in on the Tattoo Convention, which was, as I’d guessed, on the bottom floor of the Holiday Inn. A local hard rock station was concluding a live broadcast. A number of tattooed people milled about outside.
Inside a variety of vendors hawked their wares. A cash bar offered libations. I talked to the person manning the door to one of the exhibition halls and he lamented skinny people getting tattoos that are too big to look good on their bodies. One woman intensely attacked a face-painting job for the only child I saw.
I’m not sure what entertainment I’d missed, but it was pretty low key when I passed through. Still, it was quite a contrast to the group across the park. At the same time, each group pursued their passion without stepping into the path of the other and it was a cool thing. An urban thing and I liked it all.