With the Major League All-Star Game to be played tonight, I am reminded of my own All-Star moment – which came in 1987.
My daughter was only a year-old, and I had a very nice box in the second deck of Dodger Stadium right behind home plate – a good place to catch foul balls.
Dodger outfielder Pedro Guerrero was at the plate and hit a foul ball in my direction. It would have been a routine catch for me except that I had my 1-year-old in my left arm. I decided to go for it anyway and battled a few other fans for the grab.
I caught it, and handed it instinctively to my daughter.
There were about 40,000 fans in the ballpark, and the moment was caught on Dodgervision for all to see. When I handed the ball to my little girl, the entire Dodger Stadium crowd erupted in a collective “awwwwwwwww.”
I’m reminded of this moment because something happened at an Atlanta Braves game recently. A fan, holding his baby, caught a foul ball – and it became a national story. In fact, there were even suggestions the fan should be invited to tonight’s All-Star Game as a result.
I have to tell you, my catch was better.
And what made it more dramatic was the handoff of the ball to the baby.
This guy did not do that.
Am I bitter?
There weren’t as many video cameras at the games back then. There was no Internet to capture the moment for millions of fans to watch on YouTube or on hundreds of other sources.
I’m happy to relive the moment – one of hundreds of other great moments I’ve experienced at baseball games, playing in them or watching them on TV.
Baseball is one of my passions.
I average watching 160 regular season games and year. That does not count post-season or pre-season. I love baseball. There was a time I even considered becoming a sportswriter rather than a newsman. But I wasn’t that interested in other sports when I was in my formative years. I didn’t want to end up covering basketball or football or, even worse, soccer.
Also, I was never sure if I would enjoy baseball as much if it was my job to cover it. So I chose news – and never looked back.
It wasn’t easy, because, as a kid, I wanted to be a baseball player. It’s all I thought about. I wanted to be Derek Jeter long before he was born.
I enjoy baseball as much as I did when I was a kid watching Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford and, my favorite, Clete Boyer, play for the Yankees.
One of the things I love about baseball is that you can watch thousands of games and still see something you’ve never seen before.
I’ve seen unassisted triple plays, perfect games. I was even there the night Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in a World Series game at Yankee Stadium on three successive pitches.
The same thing is true in the news business. Every day there’s a story breaking somewhere that makes you scratch your head in disbelief or amazement or even horror.
Even though I won’t be invited to the All-Star Game tonight, I’ll be watching it on TV – enjoying the fact that Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano will be the double-play combination for the American League, and Curtis Granderson will be in centerfield.
But, most of all, I will be relishing the fact that my Yankees are sitting comfortably atop the American League East Division despite a season in which they’ve seen major injuries to some of their biggest stars – including Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda. Less serious injuries to C.C. Sabathia and David Robertson have not been able to keep them down.
So, go Yankees.
Go American League.
Enjoy the game – and the All Star moments.