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Greater Tulsa Reporter

Tulsa’s ONEOK Field a Community Gathering Place

Out & About in Greater Tulsa By EMILY RAMSEY
Managing Editor

OPENING NIGHT: The Tulsa Drillers opened its 2017 season on April 13 at ONEOK Field. Before the game was an opening night parade.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

Despite the rain—sometimes coming in sheets—I was happy to see the crowds come out in full force for opening night of the Tulsa Drillers on April 13.

Spectators sat under their umbrellas; crowds hovered under the overhang; parents endured, soaked to the core, as their children played unconcerned in the grass.

All proving that the rituals and general outing of baseball remain alive and well.

This was my first time to watch a baseball game in the rain, and it wasn’t completely unwelcome. I always feel a combined sense of adventure and safety when I am out in the elements yet shielded under an umbrella.

Still, in addition to my umbrella, I was grateful for the stadium overhang that gave my seat an extra degree of protection.

It appeared that there were others who felt similarly: there were many fans toughing it out in their seats wearing only plastic rain gear. It was nice to see that those die-hard fans still exist, unless they just enjoy the rain.

For the majority of people, though, they milled around behind the seats, avoiding the rain and, perhaps, simply taking in the general atmosphere and energy that one only finds at a sporting event.

Unlike some sports, baseball provides a particularly nice spectating option because of its somewhat leisurely pace. A person can keep one eye on the game and one ear on conversation.

Yet, I can’t help but consider whether it’s the age-old tradition of baseball that keeps people coming back. Or something more basic to our human need.

ONEOK Field’s accommodating design, including its open-air concession corridor, effectively pulls together the game, the spectators and those out of their seats, creating a unifying sense that we are all “in this together.”

Add to that the couples stretched out on the south lawn, families playing catch and children laughing at the splash pads, and the game feels no longer like a sporting event but a community gathering for all kinds of people.

“It’s never ‘just’ a baseball game; there’s always tons to enjoy,” noted one Drillers spectator who admits to not being a baseball fan.

The games could be compared to what the Tulsa Farmers’ Market has turned into: the place to be on Saturday mornings.

I remember almost two decades ago when the farmers’ market took place in a parking lot along 15th Street. There was still a sense of community captured there, but the expansion that has taken place since the market’s move onto 15th Street and the subsequent community buy-in has been amazing to witness.

And, still, the intention of that activity, although with a different focus, at its core is also wrapped up with human connection.

A similar, yet I suspect slightly rowdier, atmosphere can be found at the Tulsa Roughnecks games, also held at ONEOK Field.

As the days grow longer and the weather warmer, I plan to drink it all up.

Updated 05-02-2017

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