“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.