Fortunately, Cliff has done his usual fine job of recapping a game. Emily and I were also at the stadium, but our seats were so spectacular that is was actually hard to keep perspective on what was happening on the field. The seats my mom scored for us were just up the left field line from the visitor's dugout, seats 11 and 12, in the front row! I mean, you've got to be kidding me, right? One step forward and we're on the field. Third base coaches Ron Washington and Luis Sojo were close enough to touch, and Eric Chavez and Alex Rodriguez weren't too far off either.
The seats were memorable, though they would not be my first choice if I could sit anywhere I'd like. Being so close, you lose perspective on the entire field a bit. More than that, you have to be alert on every pitch, in case a foul ball comes zipping your way. The first time Sheffield was up, he rocketed a foul ball over our heads and it scared the bejesus out of me. After that, I literally crouched down each time he came to bat. I didn't bring my mitt, but we were lucky enough to have a guy sitting next to us who did. To be honest, I was more concerned about Emily than I was about myself. But you really had to be on guard. No keeping score, or drifting off here. We were in the firing line.
We arrived early and caught the A's taking batting practice. Ken Macha strolled by and I said hello, and he said hi back. He stopped to chat with Octovio Dotel, who was taking grounders at third base, and then moved on to the outfield. Little boys lined up behind us and yelped like puppies at the players to chuck them a ball. This went on for the entire afternoon.
"A Rod, A Rod, I'll be your best friend if you give me the ball."
"Brown, I'll give you $20 if you get this guy out."
Eric Byrnes, who Em thinks is a dead-ringer for Steve Martin's youngest child in "Parenthood," sprinting in and out of the dugout each inning, in his vintage Charlie Hustle style. But nobody on Oakland was better to see up close than Bobby Kielty, with his great shock of orange hair.
The game, of course, turned out to be a good one. For me, the highlight had to have been Kevin Brown v. Byrnes with the bases juiced in the second inning. Not only because Brownie got the strike out, but because one of the balls that Byrnes fouled off, came skipping directly toward me. I stood up, leaned over the fence and scooped it up with no problem (they should all be that easy!). The first fould ball that I ever touched in my life, peoples. I got excited. Meanwhile, Em is next to me, like this sort of thing happens everyday.
Sitting behind us was a family with two young boys. They were at the game celebrating the older boys birthday. (The mother, who was trying to teach them to keep score, hadn't been to the stadium since Game Six of the 1981 Serious.) So, without really examining the ball--or perhaps waiting for the crowd to get on me for keeping it--I turned around and gave the ball to the birthday boy's brother. This secretly broke Emily's heart, but she didn't say anything until we got home. She thought I should have given it to the birthday boy, but I figured the other kid wasn't getting anything that day, so he should have it. (Later in the game, Skippy, the ball boy, tossed a ball to the guy with the mitt who was sitting next to us, and he promptly gave it to the kid whose birthday it was, so they both went home happy.) It wasn't until later that I had second thoughts about giving the ball up. I still couldn't believe that I had actually touched a ball that had been in play. But the best thing was the event itself, actually catching it. As nice as it would have been to keep it, I'm sure the kid I gave it to will cherish it more than me...well, maybe.
It's incredible just how hard these guys hit the ball. Rodriguez's dinger was a seed, and though judging fly balls to left and center was difficult from where we were sitting, I knew by the sound, his ball was gone immediately. Tino's homer was especially exciting, and Posada's bomb was the cherry on top of a terrific day for the home team. The only drawback was the nasty sunburn I got on my face and neck. We thought it was going to be overcast. "Well, that's the last time that'll ever happen to you," nurse Shapiro said to me later in the evening, as she applied cream on my face.
I smiled. "Don't look so happy, this is bad," she scolded.
I was still geeked about the foul ball. I was hurting later on, but it was okay. The Yankees won, and Em and I had a time we'll not soon forget.