You Always Remember Your FirstIt didn't happen until I was 32 years old. Up until that moment, I had at least two good opportunities come and go. Once in the Wrigley Field bleachers during high school. The other was in Baltimore back in 2001. It finally happened one cool spring night in Jupiter, Florida back in 2006.
No, it's not what you're thinking. I'm talking about catching my first foul ball. So what if it was during a poorly-attended, Class A Minor League game between the Daytona Cubs and the Palm Beach Cardinals. The Florida State League is considered a "High A" league. Most of the top MLB draft choices are placed in that league to start their course from prospect to big league stars.
One April night, my wife and I walked up to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida and purchased two tickets. The paid attendance for the evening was somewhere around 200-300. I remember turning to Susan and saying, "I think I'm getting a foul ball tonight." She rolled her eyes.
Once the game started, the foul balls rained from above the field. None were landing anywhere near me. Apparently, our premium seats were too close to the field. Somewhere around the second or third inning, we decided to switch seats and move over to the third base side even to the baseline between second and third. Felt like we moved directly into a meteorite shower. Each time a pitch was fouled into the crowd, two young boys with gloves appeared from nowhere. They each had four, five, six baseballs tucked away in their Rawlings gloves.
After a few innings passed, finally, I decided it was my turn. They had their fair share of Florida State League baseballs. I needed to walk away with a free souvenir. During the bottom of the ninth, one of the Palm Beach Cardinals slapped a line drive into the seats, I sprung from my seat, but one of the kids beat me there. Curses! All rules were off now. If I had to out sprint an 8-year-old, I would. The same batter swung and popped a foul ball high and out of play. I knew it was too far away to catch it on a fly, so I rose and tracked that ball. It slammed against a seat and hopped toward me. As I approached the ball, I heard a woman's voice.
"Let the man have this one."
I bent over, picked up the slightly orange dirt-stained ball and saluted the woman. She smiled and held up her arms, blocking her boys. I returned to my seat. Susan patted me on the back, smiled, and said she was going to the concession stand for a hot dog.
Speaking of foul balls....
Moises Alou, the Chicago Cubs left fielder during the ill-fated 2003 National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins, made an admission to the Associated Press earlier this week. He stated that he probably would not have caught the now-infamous "Bartman Ball" during the eighth inning of Game 6. Immediately following, the Marlins scored eight runs to tie the series at three games apiece. The Marlins defeated the Cubs and starting pitcher Kerry Wood the following night during Game 7 at Wrigley Field. Including the infamous Game 6, better known as the "Bartman Game," the Cubs have lost five consecutive post-season games. Alou is now a member of the New York Mets, and he will miss the start of the 2008 season due to hernia surgery.
"All we are saying, is give peace a chance."