My son has a very cool mom. On Mother’s Day we took her to St. Petersburg to see the Cleveland Indians play the Tampa Bay Rays. (Moms who love sports are keepers, kids.) We had great seats, right behind the home plate area along the first base side of the park at Tropicana Field.
The best decision we made was moving across the aisle to sit in a less crowded area, because in the bottom of the seventh the most amazing thing happened. Logan Forsythe, whom I admittedly know little about, entered the game as a pinch-hitter and fouled a pitch from Cleveland reliever Marc Rzepczynski in our direction. I stood and watched as the ball sailed over our heads and bounced off the siding of the second level.
Then I realized the ball was making its way back in our direction. My eyes were locked in on it, like a fly ball to the outfield in a Little League game as it floated downward. I took one step to the left, cradled the ball into both hands, then stood there stunned for what felt like a full minute, though it was likely just a matter of seconds. I couldn’t believe my luck. I looked at the ball to process what just happened, then held it in the air in triumph.
The crowd went wild. I handed it over to my 17-month old son, seated on the lap of his mom, and heard the cheers change to “awes” as I soaked in his reaction. His mom just flashed a smile, likely relieved I didn’t make an idiot of myself by fumbling the opportunity.
An elementary aged kid in the row in front of us said “nice catch” and offered up a high five. I then realized it could’ve been caught by him or his dad. Or the guy sitting next to us who had gotten up to go to the concession stand. These weren’t even our seats. But I’ll take it anyway I can get it these days.
It’s easy to ignore details such as these when something so unimaginable as this takes place. The odds are against you. It didn’t matter that Forsythe eventually struck out to end the inning. Or that the Rays lost 6-5 after their comeback attempt fell short. I really didn’t care about the outcome anyway. I was born south of Cleveland and have been living east of Tampa since 1999. I’ve seen these teams play too many times to count.
A couple years ago I would’ve given the ball to a kid sitting nearby, but now my son will get to hear the story each Mother’s Day about that one time dad caught a foul ball for him and his mom while he’s actually holding it in his hand.