This week’s story has little to do with local ‘sports’ as I am away on a family vacation. I managed to catch a game at Dodger Stadium last week. Yes. The Spencer’s were on their annual pilgrimage to California and decided to take in an afternoon matinée to see the fighting Philadelphia Phils. I guess you can say it was the usual MLB game. Slow, hot, crowded with overpriced peanuts and beer. $14 for a domestic draft of PBR? Boy. It doesn’t get much better than this J. Drink up kid.
The stadium itself is one of America’s finest. It is the oldest ballpark west of the Mississippi. In fact, Dodger Stadium is the third oldest overall behind Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Surprisingly, it remains the largest MLB venue by seating capacity. I was immediately impressed with the layout and very friendly staffers. Our seats were decent and the tickets weren’t that bad in terms of price. We got there extra early hoping to see Fernando, Orel, Kirk or Tommy Lasorda. Later I found out those guys all retired. But my man Vin Scully is still kicking though. The long time play-by-play announcer is everywhere. His famous words of, “HI EVERYBODY. A VERY PLEASANT GOOD AFTERNOON TO YOU WHEREVER YOU MAY BE. IT’S TIME FOR DODGER BASEBALL!” are even splattered on the bathroom stalls.
Of course my 8-year-old son had to buy some gear. Jensen was in blue heaven and went with a Dodgers t-shirt and matching hat, a baseball and mini bat. I never knew he was such a fan, but thankfully Grandpa Jim was here to pick up the tab. We both like baseball, but rarely follow MLB and we didn’t know or recognize any players on either team. There was a time when I could name every starter on every squad, but those days of collecting cards are long gone and we do not play any fantasy.
Like everyone else in the stands, Jensen and I were hoping to bring home a foul ball. It’s what you do, but Section 141 unfortunately didn’t give us the best opportunity. We were some 400 feet up from the Dodgers’ dugout on the third base line. Just a tad out of range. No need for a glove J. But man we could’ve used one. #foreshadowing
The left handed Chase Utley came to the plate in the bottom of the sixth. The lead off second basemen actually got his start with the Phils. I am sure there was a little extra incentive to hit it hard. Chase was 0-2 with 2 Ks that afternoon and was behind in the count. He then swung at a high fastball and... HEADS UP FOLKS. This ball was, incredibly, headed our way. It continued to climb and everyone in Section 141 was now doing the wave. I don’t remember every detail but I can still feel that ball smacking OFF the palm of my outstretched right hand. I TOTALLY BLEW IT. Did you catch it? NO. IT HIT MY HAND. E on the four eyed middle aged guy from PA. I was crushed. Once in a lifetime opportunity and I choked. Buckner, Norwood and now Spencer.
My friends from section 141 whispered and booed. There were rumors that my mishap was even captured on the Jumbotron above. No where to run and no where to hide. Everyone in Dodgers Stadium was pointing their finger. The ball ended up with some lucky guy two rows below. I didn’t see what happened after the impact but I asked him if I could borrow the ball for a quick pic to show my weekly readers in between innings. Hector laughed at first but accepted my watch as collateral. My hand was still throbbing and perhaps I could file some sort of a claim. I had a very hard time giving the ball back to this man. He was smiling ear to ear and posting pictures on Instagram.
If I only used “both hands.” I have told my players this phrase thousands and thousands of times. But I never thought it would come back to haunt me. I never wanted to be that guy who didn’t practice what he preached. My bad J. I blew it. Never again. I will always catch the ball with two hands. Sporting matters. Cheers.