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Jul 10, 201710:05 AM
The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

Maria Vs. The Boys

This being the week of the Major League All-Star game brings to mind one of those moments when baseball worked its magic. It happened during a Zephyrs’ game (back when the team was still called by that name) several years ago:


Somewhere around the 6th inning Maria came into our consciousness. The Zephyrs were already ahead 8 – 0 over the Oklahoma City Redhawks but that didn’t matter much to Maria, who had other things on her mind in addition to her ancestral preference for Hispanic ballplayers. Her parents and siblings had gone on a popcorn run. Maria stayed near her seat because she was preoccupied with her mission.

From seemingly out of nowhere Maria, who was probably eight years old, tapped my shoulder and asked a question that has confounded philosophers for centuries. “Why,” she asked with disgust, “is it always the boys that get the baseballs?” Several times that night a foul bowl had bounced nearby, or a player on the way back to the dugout had flipped a ball toward the seats, but each time boys honed in leaving Maria out.

We tried to explain that maybe boys were more aggressive at such things. “Would you fight for one?” I asked, “Yes!” she answered emphatically. Maria, who only minutes earlier had been a stranger to us, persisted, "I really, really want a ball,” she kept on saying. “If you get one, please give it to me.”

“Why do you want a ball?” I asked. “For my collection,” she answered. I assured her I would do my best but the truth was my chances were probably worse than hers. All my life I have wanted to catch a ball at a ballpark too and have never come close. Not only that, but I was also striking out with the night’s other giveaways. We were sitting near the first base dugout, so it would have been easy to spot us early in the game when Zephyr staffers stood on top of the dugout to toss t-shirts. I did not even earn eye contact. Later in the game Boudreaux, the mascot nutria, stood on the same platform and avoided us when he tossed out pizzas. Once, between innings, Boudreaux walked on the dugout roof waving to the crowd. I couldn’t even get a high five from him.

It must have been the seventh inning when Maria’s parents returned. Shortly after I heard the girl shrieking. She was ecstatic. “I have a ball,” she shouted, I have a ball.” “Where did you get it?” I asked. “My mom.” Excitedly Maria tried to put together a supposition on how her mom got the ball. “It bounced and she reached over and caught it,” Maria explained. Since I had not seen a ball land in our area recently I asked her dad, who paused and then said, rather timidly, that the mother had found it beneath the seats. That to me seemed rather unlikely knowing how eagerly those dastardly boys hone in on the balls, nevertheless I chose to accept that answer, which sounded more magical than mom perhaps buying the spotless ball in the gift shop during her popcorn quest. Whatever the method of acquisition Maria was thrilled and even let me hold the sphere for a few well-guarded seconds. (Instinctively, I sniffed the ball, which had that unmistakable leather and varnish smell that took be back to Maria’s age when a hardball was the center of a boy's summer pastime before it became a metaphor for life.)

For the Zephyrs it had been a big night. They won 11-1, not giving up that last run until the ninth inning. For me, the night was less successful. I never did get anything thrown my way, however I did collect handouts given out as we left the ball park; including a sample of Pert shampoo (the official brand of the Zephyrs) and a bag of Lay’s new spicy ketchup potato chips.

Undoubtedly, the big winner of the night was Maria. Not only did she go home with a ball, but also in her mind it had been snared by mom. No boy could top that.




BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), is available at local bookstores and book websites.




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The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde


Errol LabordeErrol Laborde holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of New Orleans and is the editor-in-chief of Renaissance Publishing. In that capacity he serves as editor/associate publisher of New Orleans Magazine and editor/publisher of Louisiana Life magazine.

Errol is also a producer and a regular panelist on Informed Sources, a weekly news discussion program broadcast on public television station WYES-TV, Channel 12. Errol is a three-time winner of the Alex Waller Award, the highest award given in print journalism by the Press Club of New Orleans. He also received the National and City Regional Magazine Association Award for Best Column for his New Orleans Magazine column, beating out 76 city magazines across the country. In 2013, Errol received the award for the "Best News Affiliated Blog," awarded by the Press Club of New Orleans.

Errol’s most recent books are Krewe: The Early Carnival from Comus to Zulu and Marched the Day God: A History of the Rex Organization. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis and traveling with his wife, Peggy, to anywhere they can get away to, but some of his favorite spots are the Caribbean and historic locations around Louisiana. You can reach Errol at (504) 830-7235 or errol@myneworleans.com.




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