Take that ya Yankee baaaastad.
I’ve been going to Fenway Park since before the 600 Club. To many of our readers, especially the ones that took me at that young age (and who take me still today), that isn’t much of a landmark, but to me and my generation, that’s kinda braggin rights. I’ve gotten to see Boggs break a bat over his thigh, Pedro K’ing 17 Yankees (and also mushing Don Zimmer into the turf), Manny, J.D., Lowell and Tek going back to back to back to back, a triple play, game seven playoff comebacks and a World Series Game One Victory. Like many Sox fans, I’ve been able to enjoy these moments with my Dad, Grandpas, cousins and friends, and that’s what makes the moments so memorable and so special. What happened to me last night though, may be the single coolest split second of my baseball life so far. (Including winning the Weston Little League World Series on a play at the plate. -Dad was coaching-).
My father, my girlfriend and I snuck off to the Sox game last night to watch Wakefield’s return to the hill against the White Sox. He went 7 innings deep, scattering six hits and one run on a great night of pitching. He found the strike zone for each of his first 16 pitches and Victor Martinez who had never caught a knuckler before was “A-” terrific. Come on… there’s always room for improvement… he did drop the first pitch of the game (called strike any way) and one tipped third strike that didn’t end up costing anyone. It’s worth noting for contrast that Tek is so bad at catching the knuckle that Nick Green went out there for warm ups one inning and they even gloved the first base coach for an inning as well.
RamRam came in the as the reliever in the 8th with a 2-1 lead, I believe I was on my 4th Vodka Tonic at that point (Go screw, they’re refreshing), and gives up a first pitch bomb to which ever suck bag Chicagoan was at bat and erased Wakes decision… this prompted my girlfriend (told you I had one), to turn to me and say, “Well now we have to stay.” It’s true that I usually leave early.
That spit is all over every ball.
So Bard comes in with his 101MPH heater to struggle us out of the 8th, and I jump up for one more zesty libation. I got to the bar (they don’t cut us off at the seats we were in) in time to hear a bunch of ChiSox fans cussing at “JD” -Jermaine Dye, who they hate- and I was back to my seat with 2 outs in the top of the ninth, Bard on the mound and Thome at bat with 2 strikes. I put our drinks down, and didn’t even need to see the crack of the bat, I knew the foul ball line drive was screaming right at us. It’s a sense you don’t know you have until you need it.
Without thinking or batting an eyelash, I moved her out the way with my right hand, leaned a hair left, and stabbed it with a bare left hand. I looked down, and there was my first foul ball. It was all instinct. She started screaming (I saved her effing life, by the way, and she looks at me and says: “I woulda had it.”), and the crowd around me, -behind, up and slightly to the right of home plate-, went nuts. I just stood there and looked at the ball in the palm of my hand.
It happened so immediately that before I knew it, the moment had passed, and the teams were changing sides. An usher came over quickly to see that we were alright. When he asked me if I wanted any ice or anything I took a moment to look at my red throbbing hand (which had not yet let the ball go from the exact position I caught it in), and looked back and said, “I wanna feel this as long as it will last.”
I took a few more sips of what was a pretty watery drink at that point, looked up and saw Ortiz crushing a walk-off home run. I dodn’t know where it landed, but he and Gonzo provided all the offense we needed last night in the form of 3 blasts… two over the monster. Anyone who thought Ortiz would be on pace for 25 and 90 after the first 50 games… is either lying, or a blogger, or both. Even Bay’s gonna hit 30 and 100 and Youk FINALLY will, too.
Last night was the kind of night you remember so vividly that you even know the stats from the jumbo tron because to forget just one detail from the experience tarnishes the gem.
On our way out of the park a guy came over and put his arm around me, “I’ve been coming to games for 51 years, kid, I just caught my first ball last year… so you’re about 25 years ahead of schedule… That was the best catch I’ve ever seen.” I never saw him again, but I’ll remember him forever.
It was the coolest baseball moment of my life, and I am thrilled to be able to share it with the Ballpark.