I awoke to the ominous sound of thunder in the distance and rain pelting the rooftop. It was a bit disheartening as my son Ryan had purchased tickets to the Philly game. But it was still early and there were six hours until the 1 p.m. start of the ‘businessman’s special’. I left Lake in Wood around nine and headed east on the turnpike, and I could barely see the vehicles in front of me with the fog and stammering precipitation.
By the time I turned into his drive in New Jersey, the clouds were dissapating and the anticipation of an afternoon with my son rose with the clearing skies. By the time we were entering Citizens Bank Park it appeared that Thor and his felllow rain gods had left the building. To top that off, all seniors got to walk the bases after the completion of the game. That didn’t stir many emotions in my soul but going to a game with my son brought back memories of decades gone. I remembered my first game at Forbes Field in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. We sat behind the right field fence watching the great Roberto Clemente doing his basket catches as if they came natural. Yes, Virginia, you read it correctly. A wire fence in right field, to protect the bleacher creatures from home run balls. Nevertheless, things have come full circle when I listened to my son speak of taking his young son to a game perhaps next year, as he turns two. Where have the years gone, I said sadly to no one listening.
The day was great……almost. Billie Jean King was there and threw out the first pitch. The Phillies won the game with a walk-off home run by Hunter Pence in the bottom of the tenth. I like that guy. He’s a throwback, wearing his pants just below the knee, showing a lot of red stocking, adorned with stirrups. Funny how all things come around every thirty years or so. But the best was manager Charlie Manuel being thrown out for dropping the “F’ bomb several times on the home plate umpire. While jawing, I didn’t think his face could get any closer to the umpire. We had seats just behing the Phillies dugout and we were so close that I could see the spit emanating from Charlie ‘s oral cavity and landing on the ump’s protected chest.
Ryan insisted I run to the field entrance down the right field line at game’s end. He said the seniors would line up like an army to walk the bases. I’m glad I listend to him as several thousand followed suit behind me. I walked in line with other from right field toward first base. I listened to others rant and voice the awe about doing this. They likened it to a bucket list item. I wasn’t that moved. Afterall, I’ve been on pro fields in the past, fortunate to be walking with celebrities. But then I spotted a used ball, lying near the dugout and I dashed out of line to retrieve it. I got back in line and touched first base. Like the sheep being led to slaughter I followed many others to second and touched that base as well. It was then that I darted free of the ushers and as if I owned the field I headed to the mound with my newly found ball. I climbed the hill and stepped on the rubber. I hunkered down and peered toward the plate. Glancing over at third, I reared back, cocking my left leg high…….and hurled that sucker straight toward home plate. It was then, that security and others didn’t find my antics the least bit funny. I saw a taser gun out of the corner of my eye. Quickly my apologies spewed out. “I’m sorry, I’m just an old man needing a rush.” No taser, no cuffs, just a golf cart coming over to take me away.
I not only had a police escort but I was actually taxied off the diamond, out to left field, and delivered to my son, with head hanging down. And then he smiled and said, ” I knew you couldn’t just be satisfied to be like the others.” So it ended as ominous as the day had begun. But I’ll never forget that and my son and I laughed all the way back to New Jersey.