Fred is a good friend, many years, turning 60 years young in just a short while. Has been to countless baseball games, countless, but never managed to get a ball.
That changed this past Sunday. I happened to take a quick break beginning of the fourth inning, to get some food and drink. When I came back there he was holding a ball, noticeably beaming, and actually looking a bit astonished.
“It hit off that seat, ricocheted right to me! First ball I have ever gotten… First ever.”
Neither of us is a spring chicken, and we have been around the block a few times, but there we were touching the ball, looking at it, holding it, rubbing it, as if it was some kind of magic lamp or something. I mean it is a piece of what is going on “out there” in the game. Hard to put into words why it is so exciting to get a ball that is hit into the stands. I mean, it is just a ball. There are a ton of them, we all know.
A father and young boy came over, and asked to see it. The boy had a glove on. He marveled at the ball, as if it was some rare jewel he had dug up during a secret and very dangerous archaeological expedition.
“I caught it to give to you… You do know that, right?”
The little boy stared at Fred.
“Yes, ask your dad. I caught that ball so you could have it!”
“I can have it?”, the little boy asked, then looked up at his dad.
“Yes, you’re supposed to have it, not me. I want to make sure you have it because you are going to play in the major leagues one day, and you need to have an actual ball from a game to help you get there…”
I just sat back, listened, and watched as this unfolded.
Fred, who never had gotten a ball in all the years, and this young boy who was just so thrilled to even look at the ball.
The father thanked Fred. The little boy thanked Fred, many times.
Then a complete stranger sitting behind us bought Fred a beer.
“Best beer I think I’ve ever had!” Fred laughed.