Tomorrow is the four year anniversary of one of the greatest moments in my life watching baseball. April 25 th 2004 was a Sunday afternoon game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. I was going with Dan Schwartz and two other people, Dan had convinced me to go to the game and I obliged going to the stadium for the first time since 1995. Dan was wearing an Alfonso Soriano jersey and tried to convince people he bought it for Kenny Lofton, even though he had the 100 year anniversary patch from 2003. We were expecting a great matchup of former Expos as Pedro Martinez, who I had never seen live before, and Javier Vazquez, in his first and last year in pinstripes, where the scheduled starters.
We arrived at the stadium early, Dan wanted to watch batting practice, if you ever get a chance to watch bp do it, and it is amazing watching these larger than life players round into shape right in front of your eyes. We got there as the Red Sox were starting to hit in the cage and Dan and I got decent seats right around where the tarp is in right field.
I was thrilled when balls landed near my section, something that never happens to me for some reason. Then it happened a lefty, I believe either Mark Bellhorn or Kevin Millar, hit a scorching ground ball foul toward right field, it bounced off the warning track surface hit a guy in his right shoulder and Dan in the nose (laugh it’s ok) and landed near me.
What am I to do?
I have never been this close to a MLB ball before in my life. I don’t sit in seats that have a high percentage of foul ball, so this was my only legitimate shot. Do I check on my friend, who might have a bloody and/or broken nose, or do I grab the ball?
Without thinking I grabbed the ball and then while still raising my hand and ball like a douche bag, I asked Dan if he was ok. He said, yes and immediately became pissed since he got hit and didn’t have the ball to show for his pain.
Before we went to our seats, Dan went to the paramedics for an ice pack, not because he was in pain, but, because he wanted a Yankee ice pack. It was a regular ice pack and he got angrier.
Dan would bitch to anyone who was near him that, I, a Mets fan, stole the ball from him. I became increasingly nervous as Yankee fans were in a sour mood after losing the first two games of the series and the prospect of hitting against a contract year Pedro. Luckily for my movie star good looks nothing happened
The game was a well played game with the Sox winning 2-0 on a two run shot by Manny in the 4 th (I forgot who hit the homer and when, but I do remember it was a no doubter). Like in years past Pedro dominated with his team in line for a sweep.
The Yankee crowd was bummed leaving the game, except for me because I saw a good game, which is all I cared about seeing how I was a Met fan living through the Art Howe era. Side notes from the game, in the middle of the game an older couple sitting near us had an extra sandwich that they didn’t want to eat, so they gave it to me, it was a bologna sandwich that looked really good, unfortunately it had mustard which I cant stand, so it ended up in a garbage can in the Bronx.
There were the chants of 1918 throughout the game, which I didn’t join, but then people started a 1986 chant which I happily joined.
This was one of my favorite baseball memories not involving the Mets. Others include wearing a Piazza shirt in Fenway in 2005 and being told he was gay, having a discussion with Oliver Perez with a Yankee fan from Port St Lucie last year at Yankee Stadium and my shock and amazement watching the Oriole fans sing “Thank G-d I’m a Country Boy” right after the 7 th inning stretch.