Foul Balls

Baseball Fan & Facebook Friend Dennis Anderson’s email submission to Baseballisms.com reprinted with permission. We love to hear foul ball stories, but have not actually caught one in a game … as Dennis accurately details, it’s a lifetime memory.  We are honored that he has shared this story with us.

I caught a foul ball at Wrigley Field.

foul ball catch For a baseball fan, possessing a foul ball you caught at a major-league game is the same as an art collector acquiring a Renoir. It’s gold.

So I know what was going through Steve Bartman’s head when he reached over Wrigley Field’s brick wall in left field as Chicago Cubs outfielder Moises Alou tried to catch a Luis Castillo foul pop.

Was Bartman the reason the Cubs lost that game and ultimately the 2003 National League Championship Series to the Florida Marlins?

I don’t know. But Bartman, then 26 years old, was just doing what any fan would do in that situation. His hands weren’t the only ones reaching for the ball.

Every baseball fan has been there, feeling the thrill that surges through your body as the foul ball gets closer to your section. The rush intensifies as you realize it’s coming directly at you.

I’m sure Bartman experienced that.

My foul ball was hit in the bottom of the fourth by Cubs shortstop Shawon Dunston on June 15, 1988, off Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Doug Drabek. I, like Bartman, was 26.

It was a beautiful day, sun was shining, and fluffy white clouds hung in a light azure sky. It was exactly a year after my dad had died. I was feeling down and decided to play hooky from work. I went up to the Wrigley ticket window and asked for one box seat.

Even now, the first thing I do when I locate my seat at a ballpark is figure the chances of a foul ball coming my way.

Bartman likely did the same thing when he sat down for that important game for his Cubs. Yes, he could even reach out and touch a player from his seat, never mind catch a ball.

My seat was 18 rows behind home plate, off the first base side. It was the kind of place I’d hover as a kid whether at Wrigley or old Comiskey Park waiting for a chance to get near a foul ball. I’d tell my dad that I was going for some Cracker Jack and just walk the concourse nearest the field for a couple of innings. A ball never came.

But there I was on this beautiful June day in Wrigley Field.

Smack. The ball went straight over my head. I stood up and turned around to see it hit the facade of the upper deck, bounce off and fall into my waiting hands that were still clutching my pencil and scorecard.

My heart was pumping. I took a look at the ball, still cloudy with the mud the home plate ump rubbed on it just 90 minutes before. It had a black mark from where Dunston’s bat had hit it.

A man sitting a row behind me gave me a high-five, others patted me on the back.

Bartman got a beer shower for his effort.

On the next pitch, Dunston homered into the right field bleachers. On my scorecard, I wrote next to Dunston’s homer: “I caught a foul ball!!!”

At the end of the inning, I ran to a pay phone and called my wife at work to tell her about my prize. She flattered me with a few kind words, and back I went to my seat. Some fans asked to see the ball and I offered it up. Each inspected the red stitching, the National League president’s signature and the Rawlings logo in light blue type.

One man offered me $20 for a ball that he could have bought at the souvenir stand for $4.50. No sale. I’d been waiting years for this. After the game, the man’s offer went up to $100. Still, my answer was no.

Today, the ball has a place of honor in my library.

I can remember no pain when the ball hit my hand, only joy.

Bartman’s has a pain that will linger a lifetime.

Dennis Anderson

 

 

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Cards from the Diamond

by on July 2, 2009

1974 Topps | John Mayberry | Kansas City Royals | Baseballisms.comEach day we feature something from our collection of boyhood memories in bubblegum form.  For those who remember them, these cards have their own stories to tell.

What does this card bring to mind for you? Please share in the comments!

If you have a personal Baseball story that you would like to share, please visit our Upload page. We look forward to receiving it!

1974 Topps

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Cape Cod Summer League

by on November 8, 2008

Spending the summers in Hyannis Ma. always meant a couple of very definite occurrences;

Gathering up enough kids to get a pickup baseball game going at Veterans Memorial Park.  Between my brothers and the other area kids we used to get 5 or 6 a side for some marathon games – except of course on the holiday weekends when those stupid cars had to park right in the middle of our outfield!  It was Murphy’s Law that when we had the most kids around to play, the overflow parking would eliminate any chance to get on the diamond.

I finally had to give up playing at that park once I got big enough to bat left handed (natural righty) .. and pull one over the short porch in right field into the parking lot of the condominiums next door.  There was one kid who actually put it OVER the condominiums in right, but he turned out to be more interested in the game of football than baseball.

Another summer enjoyment growing up was attending Hyannis Mets games of the Cape Cod Summer League.

The field was close enough to the house that we could walk or ride bikes up to McKeon Park, and in those early years they played day games until lights were finally installed in 1983.  It was always a bummer to have to leave those afternoon games early so that we were home by dinner time.

The invitation only league is for college players from around the country, and the best part is they play using wooden bats!  This attracts a lot of pro scouts trying to ascertain a player’s abilities without the projectile power of aluminum bats.

Each summer a camaraderie is built up between the players and the local town as they are provided with accommodations in homes of area residents, and are given local odd jobs when they are not on the playing field.

There have been numerous MLB players who are Alumni of the Cape Cod League and back in those adolescent days I probably watched Ron Darling pitch and play the outfield for Cotuit, or big Steve Balboni hit some mammoth home runs for Y/D.

When I visited the cape for this year’s Fourth of July holiday I had to make my annual venture up to the park to introduce the Mets to my two year old daughter.  The fan experience really has improved significantly from those early years with better lighting and seating arrangements, and the caliber of play continues to excel.  On this occasion Chris Dominguez (UofL) for the Mets blasted three home runs to tie the record held by Frank Thomas.

It’s a fantastic family experience that will forever mean summertime to me.  Baseball in Hyannis is as much a part of my summers as the beach, fireworks, ice cream and the rest of the all-american storybook.

Here is a very well done blog and podcast about the up to date happenings of the Cape Cod Baseball League called Codball.

If you have a baseball story to tell, we want you to share them!  If you’d like to submit a Baseballism, please visit our Upload page.  We look forward to receiving it!


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A Classy Organization

by on October 27, 2008

Sorry our Red Sox Nation didn’t make it to the finals, and maybe with Manny we might have. But I think it is a tribute to the organization that it cared enough about the morale of the team that it was willing to give up a man who obviously caused problems so that the remaining players would have peace of mind.

A personal example of that same kind of class follows.

My niece who now lives in San Diego but whose heart is in Red Sox Nation contracted cancer and has had a difficult time. I felt so helpless wanting to do something and not knowing what I could do. I decided to send an email to her passion, the Red Sox team, stating her love for the team and her situation and hoped that perhaps some token might be sent.

A man named Phil immediately responded wishing her well and saying something would be sent. I hoped maybe for a picture. Not only did a picture arrive but also a little packet containing soil from the Fenway Park infield. She was overjoyed.

October has always been the time that she made her trip to Boston to visit her family and share with them the joys of October. Between chemo sessions, the doctor gave permission for her to go back for a few days. She wanted to, even knowing the risks. She is back now. Wish we were in the series….but what about that 8-7 game! Class act all the way.

Maggie

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An innocent kid of the late 60′s recounts an everlasting memory of a favorite uncle, and the simple act of catching his foul ball.

This baseballism perfectly illustrates how the game of baseball can create such frozen moments in time when a game is more than just a game.

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