The Foul Ball

Oct 2, 2022

It has been a lifelong obsession. Each and every time I have gone to a Major League Baseball game, my objective has been to catch and take home a baseball. It began when I was 7 or 8 and attended a California Angels game. It has continued through my teens and into my adulthood. Don't ask me why, but the idea of snagging a baseball and taking it home has driven me. What are the odds of someone catching a ball, whether a home run or a foul ball? 1 of 539. Not good. What are the odds of a player tossing it to someone like me? Even worse. Each and every time I venture into a big league ballpark, I think about coming away with a ball. Instead of enjoying a baseball game, I am thinking about baseballs. On my 48th birthday, I secured tickets along the third baseline at Comerica Park in Detroit. Why? Because Edguardo Gonzalez, a hard-throwing lefty, was on the hill. The Kansas City Royals, the team the Tigers were playing that day, had several left-handed bats in their lineup. Meaning? Meaning lefty on lefty meant lots of late swings and balls drifting into the left side of the park. Or so went my theory. Detriot is a grand city, and Comerica is a beautiful baseball stadium in the hub of the city. It was a perfect afternoon for baseball. Two young and crummy teams meant the park was empty. I was about 18 rows from the field, close enough to see faces on the field. Probably the best seats I have ever had and my best odds of perhaps getting a ball. I got to the park early, walked into the team store and purchased a hat, grabbed something to eat, and made my way into the stadium. When I say no one was there, no one was there. It was a ghost town, something I have never seen before. If there were 8,000 people in that stadium, I would be surprised. I found my seat around Noon (for a 1:10 start) and marveled at the surroundings. There is nothing quite as amazing as a baseball stadium and field. I took my seat just before the first pitch and thought about the odds of a baseball coming my way. I didn't have to wait long. In the first inning, the second batter for the Royals was late on a pitch and sent it toward me. I watched it come toward me. It cleared the netting and continued to come in my direction. By this time, I was on my feet. I yelled out "oh shit" and for a split second thought about trying to barehand catch the ball. But it was coming in too fast, and two others were jockeying near me trying to get a bead on the ball. Before I could react any further, the ball smacked the seat next to me, rolled around in the folded chair, bounced off the back of the seat in front, and settled on the ground momentarily. As I went to grab it, the ball rolled into the row in front of me and kept rolling. A collective groan was heard from the two men. I could only watch in horror as a father snagged it and handed it to his son. That was it. I never had a ball come close to me the rest of the afternoon, and I spent the day sulking. I sulked that night and the next day. I awoke early on Friday replaying the moment in my head over and over. How come I hesitated? What if I had moved faster? Dove toward the next row? Put my foot in the path? None of that matters now because none of that happened. I hesitated. It's true what they say, that a reaction time in mere seconds can affect you. I still dwell on that moment, but time has healed, and I know I will get another chance in my life. Or maybe I won't, but the fact that an MLB baseball was right there on my birthday should be worth celebrating instead of rueing. Who knows. There are worse things in life than snagging a damn baseball anyway. 


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