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Foul Ball

with: Jamie Spencer

Exactly one year ago today, the Spencers were on their annual west coast pilgrimage. My lovely sister and rents now live in West Hollywood, California and we paid them a quick visit. After the morning with Posh Beckham, we found ourselves in the nosebleed seats of Dodger Stadium. I guess you can say it was the usual MLB afternoon matinee. Slow, hot, somewhat crowded with overpriced peanuts and stale domestic beer. $14 for a draft of PBR? It doesn’t get much better than this, boys.
Of course, my then 7-year-old son had to buy some gear. Jensen went on a major shopping spree. He decided to go with a Dodgers t-shirt and a matching hat, a logo baseball, and mini bat. I never knew he was such a fan. Thankfully Grandpa Jim was there to pick up the hefty 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 only play Final Fantasy on our Xbox now.
Hang in there, folks. You will see my transition to the #mlbclassic here very soon.
Like everyone else in the stands that afternoon, Jensen and I were hoping to bring home a special souvenir. It’s what you do, but Section 141, unfortunately, didn’t give us the best opportunity to catch a foul ball. We were 400 feet above the Dodgers’ dugout on the third base line. Just a tad out of range. No way. No chance. It's not possible. #foreshadowing.
Chase Utley came to the plate in the bottom of the sixth. The lead off, left-handed second basemen was 0-2 with 2 Ks and was behind in the count. He then swung at a high fastball and… OMG. HERE IT COMES. This ball was, incredibly, headed our way. It continued to climb, and everyone in Section 141 was now doing the wave. HEADS UP FOLKS. I don’t remember every detail, but I can still feel that dang ball smacking OFF the palm of my outstretched hand. Did you catch it? NO. BUT IT JUST HIT MY PALM. A once in a lifetime opportunity and I absolutely blew it. E on the four-eyed, 40-year-old, from North Central PA.
Everyone from section 141 whispered and booed. There were rumors that my mishap was even captured on the Jumbotron above center field. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Everyone in Dodger Stadium was pointing their finger at me and laughing. The ball ended up with some lucky fella two rows below. I didn’t see what happened after the impact, but I asked him if I could borrow his ball. My hand was still throbbing, and I took a quick pic but had a very hard time giving my ball back to this lucky fan. He was smiling ear-to-ear and posting pictures on Instagram. I was crushed. It should have been me.
Okay. Here it goes. From that moment on, I made it my goal to catch an MLB foul ball. I learned so much from my mishaps and deserved another chance. This time I'd use both hands or use a glove. I swung and missed at Camden and PNC Park. Terrible seats. I was running out of cash and was forced to give up on my pipe dream. Then the phone rang.
I received word that the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals were scheduled to play at historic Bowman Field during Little League. Yes. Sunday night baseball on ESPN from the 17701. No way. It was destiny, and all I needed now was a ticket to the MLB CLASSIC.
So, I didn't make the original cut. It's cool Steve. I'm still a huge fan. Nor did I hit a home run with the disgruntled residents of Lycoming County lottery. Several of my friends scored big, and they continue to rub it in. I also found out last week my Webb Weekly press pass application was denied. Perhaps I shouldn't have pestered that nice lady from MLB every day for the past two weeks.
I then learned that MLB had some extra tickets for the local little leagues. Maybe Jensen could go and let me in the backdoor or something. But we struck out looking there too. Trade and Transit 2 gave them all to one league. It's cool. I am glad that we are still Facebook friends Vince. OK. I could always hang outside the stadium like I did when I was a kid. Right?
I then witnessed a total metamorphosis of Bowman Field. Huge tents and temporary walls. Tall fences protected by the windscreen. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria. Not good. I am running of options. Damn. Time for plan E. I did hear from one of Wilpo's finest who must have read last week's article and smiled. He answered many of my questions. The local officer informed me that they were doing everything they could to keep a section of dike open so us average Joes could get a glimpse of the game.
I immediately raced over to Historic Bowman Field, and my friend was right. There was indeed a small section beyond the fence line. I quickly set up an old folding chair with an 8.5 x 11 sign that read "RESERVED." Sure, I didn't think it would work, but I was surprised to see my chair was already gone by early Thursday AM. I got out of the car and walked along the bike path. Searching for my favorite seat to no avail. I thought to myself — maybe I should just give up and watch the game at home. I then quickly glanced at Lycoming Creek. She was flowing that morning. I remembered the 18-inch bass I caught from my kayak during a Crosscutter's game. Wait. That's it. It's worth a shot. The ‘Maybe I will even catch a fly ball like they do from the Bay in San Francisco’. I'm down.
"Remember kid, there are heroes and there are legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die, follow your heart, and you'll never go wrong." The dude who played Babe Ruth.
By the time you are reading this, the MLB CLASSIC has already been played. I am still outside the fence, but this game was a huge win. No, I didn't score a ticket, and I believe everyone's intentions were quite good. Only 2.5k fans will get to see it first hand. What an amazing experience for all of you lucky Little Leaguers. Cheers.