For Good Clean Fun
Take Me out to the Ball Game
By: Irene Klass

Youíre joking arenít you? That was the reaction of friends and family (especially my husband) when I announced my intention of going to Shea Stadium to see the "Mets" baseball game. Well, they have stopped laughing at me.

They had been so sure that I wouldnít enjoy it, wouldnít know what it was all about, and that I would leave the park soon after the singing of the National Anthem. They were wrong on all counts! I had a ball!

I admit that originally my interest in going to Shea was sparked by the news that for the first time ever, an orthodox Jew - the Jewish singing star Ira Heller - was scheduled to open the June 19th game with the singing of the National Anthem.

The evening was a "first" for me too - I had never attended a baseball game at a major stadium - and I will long remember it! Needless to say, it was especially thrilling to be escorted right into the press box, to a place specifically reserved for ĎThe Jewish Press.í What could be more appropriate!

For me, the excitement clearly began with Hellerís rendition of the Star Spangled Banner in a clear beautiful voice, and never stopped until the end of the last inning, with the Mets winning by a score of six to zero over their opponents, the St. Louis Cardinals.

I never knew a baseball game could be so much fun, so enjoyable, even thrilling! When McReynolds of the Mets, with a beautiful shot, hit the ball clear out of the park for the first run of the game, the crowd went wild! You can scoff if you want, but as I watched that ball sail through the air in a perfect arc, on and beyond anyoneís reach, I felt a kind of thrill, and I cheered with the others.

Of course at that point it was still anybodyís game, but I found myself rooting for the Mets like a longtime fan (perhaps because it was "Ira Hellerís team") and sitting on the edge of my seat whenever the other team came to bat - "worrying" that they might score.

Excitement ran high as another Met, Elster, hit another ball out of the park, and then a third homer - what a night! There was no stopping the Mets now!

In between innings the screen would light up with various messages - like greetings to different groups. To my delight, I was surprised to learn that a contingent of one of the Young Israel Synagogues was present. No doubt they reveled in cheering on this eveningís Yarmulka clad anthem singer!

Next on the screen were the words "7th inning stretch." I thought it was a joke, but all over the stadium people were standing and stretching, and of course laughing...and would you believe, 30,000 people began singing "Take Me Out to the Ball game" in perfect unison - I never experienced anything quite like it. What a prescription for longevity, laughter and song, and for good clean fun - baseball!

I canít quite say that Iím hooked on baseball, but I can certainly say that Iíve been introduced to one of the wholesome pleasures of this world. In living a life that is "good in the sight of G-d and man," one can certainly make time for an exciting evening at the ball park - which I can now say Iíve done, thanks to Ira Heller.

(Irene Klass and her husband, Rabbi Shalom Klass, are co-founders and owners of The Jewish Press, the largest and most widely circulated Anglo-Jewish Newspaper in the world.)