(Originally posted on my MySpace blog July 24, 2007)
I caught my fourth foul ball at last Monday’s Yankees-Blue Jays game. Four sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, not when you consider the fact that I’ve been going to anywhere from 40-60 games every year since 1988.
Catching a foul ball is still a special moment, though. I may have forgotten some of the details of the first three, thanks to alcohol and that thing about killing brain cells, but I remember all the catches (or attempted catches, anyway) vividly.
My first one was during the 1997 season, when the Brewers were still in the American League. It came off the bat of ex-Yankee Gerald “Ice” Williams. I was sitting in the first row of the upper deck, and it was a relatively easy play to make – a soft pop-up that was on its way down. I caught it cleanly, or I’d have been forced to leave the Stadium in shame, serenaded by the “ASS-HOLE!” chant.
My second was two seasons later, and it was the exact opposite of my first. It came off the bat of Chili Davis, and it was an absolute laser. I was in my season seats – fourth row of the upper deck, just a shade to the first-base side of home plate – and if I didn’t catch this ball, I wouldn’t have any teeth left. The funny thing is that it didn’t hurt my hands at all – another clean catch, thank God – but the force of the line drive whip-sawed me into the bar behind my seats. (For those who aren’t familiar with the tier boxes at Yankee Stadium, sadly, I don’t mean a bar that serves booze – for whatever reason, there’s a big gap between the fourth and fifth rows of the upper deck, so a bar runs along the entire fifth row to protect people from falling.)
The details of my third are quite hazy. It was a Friday night, the Yanks were playing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (gayest name in sports, and the only thing Angels’ owner Arte Moreno has done that I absolutely hate), and the Yanks were likely getting their asses kicked, which has been the pattern against the Angels for the past few years. I call it the “13-drunk ball,” because it was hit well over my head, but everyone in my section was shitfaced, so it bounced off about 13 hands and ended up sitting on the ground in the row behind me. I think an Angels player hit it, but truth serum couldn’t get the information out of me.
Then, there was this past Monday. The flight of the ball was very similar to the first one I caught, but it was about four seats to the right. Luckily, no one was sitting in my row (which is very rare, as several people split those tickets), so I was able to range four seats to my right. Sadly, I didn’t catch it cleanly, for which I have no excuse. But it dropped right into an empty seat and I was able to pick it up. Troy Glaus, the Blue Jays’ third baseman, was the hitter.
I felt like such a kid for those few seconds when the ball left Glaus’ bat and I realized I had a play on it, and the ball got closer and I realized that I really had a play on it. And despite dropping it, it was a pretty clean drop. I got it back in a split-second. It’s not like I dropped it out of the upper deck. It really was a fun feeling.
Then, two pitches later, Glaus hit a bomb over the right-center-field wall, popping my good mood like a balloon. Oh, well, you can’t have everything.