We have always been told how important first impressions are.
In the world of sales, the first impression that you leave upon your client might be the difference between making or breaking the sale.
In the school student environment, your first actions in front of a group of your new peers might very well label you for the rest of the school year.
I have found out that in the sports world, this philosophy is very accurate.
I did not get a chance to go to a professional sporting event until I hit the age of 23, so I missed out on the feeling a young child gets when they see the professional football stadium, hockey rink, race track, or other sport venue for the first time.
But I was still awestruck that year when I got to see a football game at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn. To a person that had only watched his "heroes" on television since he was a kid, it was a thrill to be at a pro game for the first time. To make it better, Lynn Dickey and James Lofton lit it up in a 35-23 victory for the Green Bay Packers over the home team.
I had the same feeling when I saw the new Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks for the first time, or the Excel Energy center in St. Paul or the old Met Center in Bloomington.
I can only relate to one local instance as a child where I had the chance to be overwhelmed. I will never forget the first time my parents took me to the Nodak Speedway to watch the local auto races. I nervously bounced off the walls downstairs under the grandstand as my parents made me wait in the concession stand line. When we finally walked up the steps to the main walkway, I saw the pit area full of cars and the track for the first time.
I was amazed by the excitement, colors, and the hustle and bustle of the pits before race time. It was my first time of seeing people filing into an event as well, and was awed by all the people coming in to see the same thing that we came to see.
To this day, I will never forget that picture in my mind. That first impression has lasted a life time as I have been a die-hard fan ever since. As one of the announcers at the track now, I always smile inside when I see the young kids coming into the stands. Their open excitement and actions of being at the races reminds me so much of 1965 that sometimes I think like it is part of a time warp back to when seven year old Larry was filing in to the same grandstand.
So last week in Minot, local youths and adults had the same chance to experience the first impression.
Thanks to the Minot Area Youth Baseball Organization and the Minot Vista Legion team ball club, the old up-ramps at the ball park were re-opened for the State Legion tournament, and will also be in use for the Central Plains tournament as well.
The old ticket office had last been used by the Minot Mallards in 1997, and the walk in ramps had been shut down since as well. I know as the operations manager of the Mallards that year, that some people did not like the entry ramps because there are no handrails. I can understand that completely, and those people should certainly use the outside entrances. But for the fans that can use the ramps comfortably, it is a sight to behold that everyone should experience.
Coming to the Corbett Field for a young fan the last few decades has lacked the experience of standing at the old ticket window, and then walking up the two sets of ramps to enter the middle of the grandstand.
The folks at the Youth Baseball Organization and the Park District crew at Corbett Field changed that last week, and my hat is off to them.
At last week's state tourney, fans once again got to walk up the ramps to be suddenly greeted by the stunning view of the diamond at Corbett Field.
The first sight you see now when you walk up is the beautiful green grass and brown dirt of the ball diamond, and the colorful advertising and the surroundings of the ball park.
I was once again struck with the feeling of awe as I glanced around the field and at all of the fans in the grandstand as well.
As I sat and watched the Minot Vistas game against Williston that night, I could almost see the old Minot Mallards of the 1950's warming up down the rightfield line.
When I came in, I followed a family of five up the ramp and overheard one of the children gasp and yell at his mom to "look at the pitcher's mound mom!"
At that moment, I knew that the first impression of Corbett field was going to last in that little one's mind, as well as the minds of anyone else who was visiting Minot's beautiful baseball park for the first time.
And I guarantee the same result will happen this weekend at the Central Plains Regional tournament.
The hard work of the youth baseball volunteers and team parents, and the employees of the Minot Park District have brought the electricity back to the ball park, even if it is only for one more week.
Once again in the city of Minot, the first impression means everything.
(Larry McFall is a sports writer at The Minot Daily News. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)