Opinion/Where I’m writing from

OPINION | WHERE I'M WRITING FROM: Ballgame with kids a fun day for us all

I'm writing from Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

The Cranor Crew loaded up this morning and made the drive from Russellville to Fayetteville for the kids' first Hogs game.

The last time I was in this stadium, Clint Stoerner was the quarterback. I was 10, maybe 11, years old. I don't remember much from the game. It was cold and loud, just like it is now, over 20 years later.

We bought my son a hat that's shaped like a razorback but not the big plastic kind. This one is more of a beanie, like the winter hat Cousin Eddie wears in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," except my son's is red and made to resemble the University of Arkansas' mascot.

My daughter chose pompoms, which she hasn't stopped shaking since we sat down. She's bound and determined to get on the jumbotron.

The hat and the pompoms ran me a smooth 70 bucks. A beer, a seltzer and two Mello Yellos cost another $40. But, hey, we got the tickets and the parking pass comped (much love and many thanks to our bighearted benefactor). Now, all that's left for us to do is enjoy the game.

Despite the fact that the Hogs are getting stomped by Mizzou, I still get to see Rick Jones, a dear friend and coaching mentor. Jacolby Criswell, who was a student/player when I was at Morrilton High School, is down on the field too, playing his heart out.

When it was time for us to go, my son was still wearing his hat and my daughter was still shaking her pompoms. Even though she didn't make it on the big screen, she never lost hope. She never stopped cheering.

On the dark ride home to Russellville, my kids talked endlessly about their big day, recounting all the new sights and sounds. Their excitement takes me back to that game some-20-odd years ago when I watched Stoerner dish dimes to Anthony Lucas. I remember coming home and drawing sideburns and a chin beard on my cheeks and chin, imitating the Razorback quarterback I'd just watched play.

My son's too young for sideburns -- or stubble of any sort. At this point, I'm not even sure he knows what a quarterback is, or if he's aware that his daddy used to toss a pigskin around too. I do know he had fun. A whole day's worth, spent with his big sister and his mom and dad.

I glance up in the rearview mirror. My daughter is lost in her tablet, my son asleep in his car seat beside her. At first, I think he's finally ditched the Hog hat -- it's not on his head -- but then I spot it in his arms, snugged up tight under his chin.

As my eyes fall back to the road, I wonder what he's dreaming.

Eli Cranor is the nationally bestselling, Edgar-Award-winning author of "Don't Know Tough" and "Ozark Dogs." He can be reached using the "Contact" page at elicranor.com and found on X (formerly Twitter) @elicranor.

  photo  The author's son wearing his Hog hat. (Courtesy of Eli Cranor)