Monday, February 6, 2012

The Illusive Foul Ball... part 1

“Oh, man! Lucky!” my brother, Clark said.

“I caught a homerun and you didn’t,” I flaunted the baseball in his face. “Ha ha ha!”

My best friends, including my brother, and I are racing together to see a baseball game in every active professional baseball stadium. I’m determined to visit each one first because when I do, then the others will have to buy me World Series tickets. Seeing a game in every stadium would be the perfect way to prove to all my friends that I’m as cool as I think I am.

“No fair,” Clark complained. “If I didn’t have to watch the kids, I would have knocked you down and gotten the ball myself.”

“Whatever,” I said. “You may be older, but you’re slower.”

We took our seats about 15 rows back from the field, field level, third base side. We chose those seats because visiting each stadium wasn’t the only baseball dream we all have. We picked those seats because they are prime seats for catching a foul ball during the game. Catching a ball during batting practice was cool, but with all the games we’ve been to, I’d caught about ten batting practice balls but never a ball during the game itself. Catching a ball during an actual game would show the world that I’m as cool as I think I am.

“You sit on the end,” Clark told me. “Try to get the cameraman’s attention so you can get your head on the Jumbotron.”

Clark is pretty artistic and good with his hands. He’s good with a pair of hair clippers. Like we’d done so many times before, he pulled out his hair clippers and shaved the Philadelphia Phillies logo into the back of my head. That’s one of the perks about being a bald man- letting your hair grow for a week so that you can shave something cool into it, then just shave it off afterward. There’s no better way to assure you’ll get the attention of the cameraman. There’s no better way to assure you’ll be put on the big Jumbotron screen. Being on the Jumbotron is the best way to show the 45,000 fans in attendance that I’m as cool as I think I am. It worked. I made it on the Jumbotron again.

“Here one comes!” I said, jumping up out of my seat to watch the foul ball.

“No, that’s in the upper deck,” Clark rained on my parade.

It’s fine with me if he doesn’t want to try for it. If I’m the only one going for the foul ball, then I’m going to be the only one who catches one.

Clark was right and he was wrong. He was right that it was in the upper deck, but wrong that it wasn’t coming to me! There I was, standing up with my back to the field, watching above my head as the foul ball went soaring into the upper deck. Less than a second after the ball disappeared into the fans above, it popped right back out and was heading in my general direction. The ball was moving in slow slow slow motion as it came down down down.

“This is my chance!” I thought. “I’m finally going to be able to catch one. I’m finally going to be able to show the world I’m as cool as I think I am.”

I was just about to leave my seat in order to hurry over to where I knew the ball was coming down. Just before leaving my spot, though, the ball hit the metal handrail and shot directly at my face. The ball went from slow motion to hyperspeed. I wasn’t ready for it. I got my hands up just in time, but to no avail. I’d been playing baseball for over twenty years and all my years of practice should have built up to that climax in Philadelphia, catching an actual major league baseball during an actual major league game.

“I should have brought my mitt,” I thought in that split second. “Why didn’t I bring my glove? What’s wrong with me?”

My reaction time was too slow. I wasn’t ready. I’m just not as cool as I thought I was. The pretty little white ball bounced right out of my hands. The pretty little white ball bounced off the top of Beth’s head (Clark’s wife). The pretty little ball landed right in the lap of Clark’s little girl, Anna, who was sleeping in Clark’s arms. And that’s where the ball stopped.

“Got it!” Clark yelled as he held the baseball up above his head for all 45,000 fans to see. “Ha ha ha! I got it!”

I squinted my eyes in disgust. That trophy of coolness should have been mine. Mine mine mine! He wasn’t even watching and the ball just landed in his lap. Correction- the ball landed in Anna’s lap. He just happened to be holding the sleeping baby at just the right angle to catch it. Still, Clark claimed it as his own. That ball rightfully belongs to her! Stealing a baseball from a baby. He should be ashamed of himself.

To be continued…

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