Programmer by day, comic nerd by night. My official job title is "Director of Janitorial Engineering"
Family at the Kansas City Royals vs Cleveland Indians
I was given some last minute tickets to the Kansas City Royals vs Cleveland Indians last night. My family loves the Royals, but the only problem was the temperature. Had it been last week (73 degrees) it would have been a no-brainer. I first called my brother-in-law to see if he wanted to go but he had other plans. I then called my wife and asked her. I could hear in her voice how she really didn't want to go, but she knew how much my daughter would love it.
We decided to go ahead with it as they were excellent (read expensive - for my budget anyways) seats. She left work early and went to get Lexi ready (seeing as how it was 45 degrees at first pitch we needed it). She also grabbed me a coat as I didn't have anything at my office. My Dad met them at our house and they drove up. I met them at the stadium from work.
Our seats were in a section down the right field line by the foul pole. We sat down and I commented how normally these seats are a prime location for foul balls. Seeing as how one section over was empty, and our section had enough fans for maybe 4 rows, I think we had a fair shot at getting one (especially with a lot of left handed/switch hitters on both teams). The only problem I realized was that since it was so cold it might slow down their bat speed some and they wouldn't pull the balls as much as normal. Turns out I was right. I decided to sit one row in front of the family so I could have easier access to chase a ball should it be needed.
The promotion for the night was T-Shirt Tuesday. The first 10,000 fans got a Royals t-shirt. Turns out there were only about 10,500 announced for the game and the bulk of them appeared to be college age drinkers (at least in our area).
By the end of the second inning I was getting frustrated that we hadn't had any action down by us. Someone on the third base line caught a line drive...with a glove, and everyone cheered. My wife commented that we should have brought a glove (no clue where they even are). So I decided that Lexi and I should go right down to the fence in the right field corner hoping that a foul ball on the ground could be scooped up by the ball-boy and handed to her.
I took pictures of Lexi, I explained to her what the foul pole is and how it works, etc. As we are sitting by the fence Cleveland Catcher Lou Marson (right handed batter) came to the plate. He hit the second pitch down the right field line and it landed about 10 rows behind where we were originally sitting. I thought about running up and chasing it, but didn't want to leave my daughter alone. I am pretty sure had I been sitting up there I could have had it.
I am now standing with my back to the field and looking up to what could have been when I hear a another crack of the bat. I turned towards home plate to see where the ball was going and out of the corner of my eye it looks like it is heading my way. I turn and I am trying to gauge through the lights the trajectory of the baseball. I realized that it is definitely heading my way, but it will be close if it is in the stands or not.
I start thinking, should I try to catch it? Will it hurt - ball players have gloves, I have bare hands on a chilly night? Will I fall over the edge of the railing? Will I interfere with Royal's Right Fielder Jeff Francoeur (I do not want to become a Bartman)? I have to not only deal with all of this, but also worry about making sure I don't hurt my daughter (i.e. let the ball hit her), yet trying to get her a "real" baseball.
I decided to go for it (of course the above all happened within 1.2 seconds). I stood next to the railing and reached out my hands. I got my "basket" ready (as my daughter says). The ball came screeching in (it was a line drive, not a pop fly) and I had judged it almost correctly. It smacked me in the heel of the right hand, but before I could get my fingers and left hand wrapped around it, the ball fell out of my hands and back into the field of play.
I am standing there and all of a sudden fans started booing. I am not sure why, maybe because I dropped it? Maybe because it went back into the field of play? A few fans down the way started yelling at the others saying they couldn't have caught it either. I personally didn't care as all I wanted was a baseball for my little girl. Francoeur who had been tracking the ball was standing there now. I asked him if he could hand me the ball, and he said no, but he would give it to the little girl next to me. Well, that is the general idea I had in mind so deal!
With her baseball in hand (read mom's purse) Lexi and I finished out the night playing a rousing game of mini-golf. We then headed home where my wife and dad were already on the way (he was freezing). All the way home Lexi kept asking me where her ball was. She also informed me repeatedly that she was going to take the ball to school to show her friends.
We finally get home and as Lexi is getting ready for bed I decide to check my e-mail. I had a message from a High School friend on Facebook asking me if I was at the game. I wrote back and said yes, did he see me drop the ball (thinking he was at the game)? He said yes, but he saw me on TV. Crap! How many people saw that then? What did the commentators say? Oh well, maybe he is the only one who recognized me, and seeing as how the game was over, probably no one will remember it.
Proof that my daughter and I were on TV
This morning when I got into work a co-worker stopped by and asked me, "Hey Matt, were you at the Royals game last night"? Me, "Yes, did you see me drop the ball"? "Yes, you were on TV". Great! Now 2 people saw this. At least she said that the announcers were talking about how cold it was making the catch difficult (and painful) and that to my daughter I will always be a hero. She also said that you couldn't hear the boo's on TV.
An usher came by to make sure I was alright as my daughter was looking at her prized possession of the moment. Other than a bruised ego I told him that there was nothing wrong that season tickets to the Royals couldn't cure. He laughed it off and went back up to the walking path.
As I was watching the rest of the game, I reminisced about how many foul balls I have seen enter the stands over time and how many grown men fall all over each other trying to get them. Obviously we are already fans of baseball (we wouldn't brave windy 45 degree weather otherwise). What would we do with a baseball we got? Stick it on a shelf somewhere in the garage? Dig it out of a box 10 years later and wonder where it came from?
After having been to probably hundreds of games over my lifetime, I have never "caught" a baseball. I have to say the fact that I didn't get my first one until I was a father made it even more special. Next time you are at a ball game and happen to snag a foul ball (or homerun), please consider giving the baseball to a young child that doesn't have one. It will be a night they will never forget, and hopefully turn them into lifelong baseball fans.
A night she will never forget
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