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Sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so good

Jul 17, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

Dad did not want last Thursday's baseball game to end. I was there with my boys, all of them, including sons Kyle and Cody, son-in-law Eric, and brother Kent.

Kyle had his boys too, his groomsmen, who were starting to assemble in east central North Dakota for his upcoming wedding. And the day was perfect, a precursor to a perfect weekend.

When Kyle had decided that he wanted the boys to join him at a minor league Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks baseball game for his bachelor party, I was thrilled. I know how some of those things work, and tag-along dads aren't always really welcome. Not the case this time, and when all of us arrived on the campus of North Dakota State University where the Redhawks play their home games at Newman Outdoor Field, it was a great sight.

A nice stadium on a beautiful night with some great young men watching America's game.

Who could ask for more?

There were plenty of runs scored, 24 in all, during the American Association game against the Grand Prairie AirHogs.

Earlier in the day, when Al Roker said that the Fargo area would be smack center for some severe weather, we got concerned. But the forecast improved and, by game time, the weather was, well, perfect.

F-M's Nic Jackson was the hero with his two home runs. Not bad for a guy who said after the game that, "Hitting home runs is not usually my thing."

When it was time for the seventh inning stretch, we all stood and belted out the words to "Take Me Out To The Ballgame". And then came an unexpected surprise. After the traditional stretch tune, the audio control guy loudly spun Neil Diamond's classic "Sweet Caroline".

I thought the tears would be reserved for wedding day Saturday. Boy, was I wrong. We sang even louder.

Earlier that afternoon we had left the beautiful Jamestown College campus where Kyle's bride-to-be -- Caroline -- was running across the grass barefoot with her bridesmaids, all in prom dresses, off on some sort of scavenger hunt.

Mom was enjoying a much-needed night out with her gal (and soon-to-be-mom) daughter Courtney.

And dad was taking it all in.

There was the Little League team seated in the Dairy Queen section behind the Red Hawks dugout watching every play.

"No puedo," the AirHogs player told the groomsmen when they were begging him to toss the groom a foul ball he had just caught bare handed. Even though the player couldn't, the coach apparently could, and he tossed the ball to groomsman Jake, who then gave it to the grinning little kid a couple of rows in front of us. Nice, until the kid's little brother started screaming for big bro's new ball. Big brother calmly put his arm around his little buddy, gave him the ball, and everybody smiled.

The HuHot radar gun clocked some pitches in the low 90s and, interestingly, the catcher's throw to second at 84 mph.

The stadium workers also used a slingshot to launch shirts into the crowd. The boys were screaming for theirs, and when they ran out, the boys were yelling at the pretty girl to give up her tote that she had used to carry the shirts.

"Sorry," she smiled.

We voted with our applause for the four little kids doing the Chicken Dance and for the cute girls who were also dancing.

Kyle's face never made it on "Kiss Cam" at the baseball game but the game did end with the home team winning.

Kyle's kiss with Caroline came Saturday.

As the reception was drawing to a close, new father-in-law Don asked the bride and groom to stand on chairs while the 100 or so men in attendance also stood and sang, as good as any choir, "Sweet Caroline" one more time, and the reservoir of tears was nearly empty.

Welcome to the family, Sweet Caroline. Good times never seemed so good!

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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