Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fair or foul

Emily give me the ball back.

That was the first thought that ran through my mind as I watched the story unfold on tv. It seems a dad caught a ball at a recent Phillies game, handed it to his 3 year daughter, who promptly threw it down to another level in the stands. The shock and dismay was soon replaced by a warm and loving embrace of father and child. This morning, the Dad, daughter, with the Mom and other child, formed a perfect picture, as the Today show and the Phillies showered them with baseball related presents.

I figure I have been to at least 700 Yankee games over a span of decades. During that time I can count on 1 ungloved hand the close encounters with a baseball. The ball my dad caught that Yogi Berra hit in his 2000th game is still in my firm grasp. A friend next to me grabbed an Oscar Gamble foul ball in the playoffs. A Paul O'Neill line drive into the stands left a welt on my hip for days, but the ball eventually caromed 50 feet from my grasp.

Then there was the one and only. I do not recall the opponent or the batter. I do not know why I was there just with my friend Tom and his young daughter. My children were probably away at camp. What I do know is that the foul ball headed directly at me, or more precisely at the empty seat next to me where my jacket was taking up space. In an instant, I dove for the ball and smothered it in my body and clothing.

I must have watched 150,000 pitches at the games I have attended. There are several reasons I am drawn to the ball park. Taking home a souvenir and a lifetime memory is one of them.

I do not know why I exhibited a generosity of human spirit that day. Without thinking, the prize slipped from my grasp into the tiny hands of young Emily. That was the last time my fingers would ever grasp the stitching on that ball.

It is almost 20 years, I think, since that moment in time. Emily has now graduated college and is living in New York City, working as an NBC page. She has moved on with her life and has probably long ago left behind the ball with other dusty mementos of her youth.

I don't know if that instant will ever repeat itself. If I am lucky enough I will go to 700 more games and see another 150,000 pitches. Emily, I love you, but if we are sitting together when that ball heads towards us, you are on your own. The next one you have to earn.


Robert said...

Enjoyed this one!


Anonymous said...

Why don't you limit your blog to strictly sports? It seems it's a subject you know a little bit about.

Robert said...

thanks for the ringing endorsement

Anonymous said...

You're quite welcome. And if you take my advice, think of the untold entertainment pleasure you'll bring to some of your dim witted friends like Howie!

Robert said...

You leave no stone unturned in your continuing effort to be unnecessarily rude.

Pam said...

Hi Robert, Where is that ball now?????? I am going to search the house. I do not believe for a second that you would not do the same thing again today. You always have been the BEST Uncle Robert. Love, us

tom said...

looking for that ball, had written caught by robert for emily, yanks vs. milwaukee june, 1995