When I was a wee lad and my Dad was taking me to my first-ever game at Fenway, he stopped me as we were heading out the door.

“You want to bring your glove?” he asked.

“Why? They gonna let me play?”

“No. But you might catch a ball.”

And when we got to the game, I realized the astonishing lengths to which folks will go to snag an actual Major League game ball. Going tits-up over walls. Flipping over fences. Rasslin’ in the aisles. When I was about 11, I saw a man punch another guy square in the face over a foul off the bat of Glenn Hoffman–right after the two of them knocked the ball from a nun’s hands. Clearly, when it came to landing a game ball of one’s own, the stakes were high.

I attended about a hundred games over the next twenty years, and the closest I came to scoring a ball was a homerun around The Pole that glanced off the fingers of the dude two rows in front of me and bounced in the aisle just a few feet to my right. Some things, it seemed to me at the time, were simply not meant to be.

A couple years later, however, the stars aligned: I scored some Monster seats, and the opposing pitcher on that fateful day was none other than John “Way Back” Wasdin. It’ll be raining baseballs out there, I figured. In fact, I may need a burlap sack or a rental truck to transport them back home.

And, as it turns out, I did get a ball that day… although it was during batting practice. Still, seeing the ball fly a good six feet over my head, bank off a third row seat and drop lazily into my row made me feel like a kid again. And I’m certain that the two eight-year-olds I stomped over to get to the ball have not only recovered from their injuries, but have since realized one of life’s great lessons, the same lesson that I myself discovered during that first game with Dad under a sun-kissed sky at Fenway Park: people will kick your ass to get a game ball.

Ever snagged a game ball? Shout out in the comments.