Try Getting to First Base Yourself at the Ballpark

Article excerpt

Byline: Dick Heller

A "relationship expert" named Pepper Schwartz is going around the country, cyberspatially and otherwise, telling people of the unmarried persuasion that they can find love at the ballpark. Which is possible, I suppose, if one of today's 3 1/2-hour games doesn't put you to sleep first.

Schwartz dispenses advice chiefly through her Web site, appears frequently on radio and TV talk shows and has a string of sex/health academic credentials longer than a Mark McGwire home run. The way she sees it, singles can get to first base with the opposite sex by watching surly millionaires with sticks in their hands get to first base and beyond.

"Some of us were talking a while back about how hard it is to date," said Schwartz, who lives in Seattle, "and somebody said, `If a guy invited me to the All-Star Game [at Safeco Field], I wouldn't care if he had two heads.' Well, I'm a big baseball fan, too, and that got me thinking."

What resulted was a neat little press kit consisting of a baseball autographed by Schwartz - surely a collector's item someday - and a box of Cracker Jack. (I imagine peanuts were too expensive to include.) The copy promises that "love can ignite in the center field bleachers as quickly as it can in the box seats behind home plate." Except at Wrigley Field, where the Bleacher Bums are too busy sweating, swigging and stealing caps from the opposing team's bullpen.

"I had a little problem signing those baseballs because the pen doesn't move [like it usually does], but it was so neat," said Pepper, sounding a little love-struck herself. "It was so neat. My people told me I didn't have to sign all the balls that went out, but I said, `No, I want to - they're my balls. Of all the things I ever thought I might do, that was probably never a probability."

Probably not. But we digress. Why, pray tell, is a baseball game a prime place to pitch woo, as well as fastballs, whether you bring someone or meet him/her there?

For one thing, Pepper says, because baseball "is not always action-based," which might be the understatement of this or any other year. So, "it's a good place to talk and get to know another person."

Talk? What about the rock music that pounds out over the P.A. nowadays at nearly all horsehide venues?

"It's not as hard to talk as it is at a bar," Pepper insisted. …