The One Where Zach Went to His First Professional Baseball Game

When I was younger, I went to two or three major league games at Dodger Stadium a year.  Every so often, dad would come home and tell us that he got some extra tickets to the game.  My heart caught a little:  a major league game!  With the Dodgers infield:  Steve Garvey at first and Davey Lopes at second and Bill Russell at shortstop and Ron Cey at third.  Dad was from St. Louis and mom was from San Francisco, so we weren’t allowed to root for the Dodgers, but I liked those guys on the inside.

I’d grab my glove and wait in the van for everyone to be ready.  I’d tell Jake and Jean that I brought my glove to catch foul balls, but really, we sat too far away for foul balls to reach us.  I brought my glove just in case Davey Lopes got hurt and the Dodgers needed another second baseman.  Just in case. 

Through all those years and all those games, the manager, Tommy Lasorda, never asked me to fill in.  The tickets got better and we sat closer and the foul balls were a real possibility as Davey Lopes turned into Steve Sax and 1981 turned into 1988, but I never got a foul ball.

And yesterday.  Zach and Mom and Dad and Kris and I went to the Wichita Wingnuts game.  AA baseball.  The field looked amazing.  A little too amazing.  Dad commented on the crisp color of the grass and the perfect dirt.  “It almost looks like Astroturf,” he said.

I stared at it for an inning while mom and Kris got hot dogs.  “I think the dirt is carpet, too!” I said.  As soon as Kris finished eating her dog, we went to explore the first base line.  There was a low fence there.  I bent over and sure enough, it was carpet!  I smirked and waved to my folks while shaking my head in baseball-purist disgust.  Imagine a minor league field with not only fake grass, but fake dirt to boot!

Kris and I waited for the half inning to end.  The Kansas City T-Bones were up.  The left handed batter hit a dribbler toward the first base coach.  The coach bent down and the ball squirted right by him.  I laughed.  A major league first base coach would’ve caught the ball.

The coach trotted after the ball and looked for a little kid to throw it to.  But there weren’t any.  He looked at me.  I held up my hand.  And well…

Check out what Zach's holding! He got a foul ball in his first professional game. He's quite the athlete!

About Jimmy

The stories herein are about a sentimental 80s child who cried at every showing of ET (the sad part where he was lying in the wash) and his families, then and now. His wife, son, parents, and siblings play their parts well. They have their exits and their entrances. Sometimes their exits are sad, but not as sad as ET.
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13 Responses to The One Where Zach Went to His First Professional Baseball Game

  1. adslazaro says:

    See what I mean about the magic of minor league sports?

    • Jimmy says:

      I do! Hey, apparently the American Association has a St. Paul team. I thought the Saints were an Independent A team. Is there another team? Hope everything’s going well!

      • adslazaro says:

        It’s the Saints. The Saints were among the founders of the new American Association in 2005 or 2006. They were independent before that, though.

  2. kristi gutzman says:

    You didn’t just laugh at him. You looked him in the eye and gave him a “what was that?” look. He didn’t throw very well, either.
    But, Zach got a ball at his very first game.
    God loves us. 😉

  3. SteveO says:

    Haven’t been to a Frederick Keys (AA) game in ages … Hard to beat a good minor league game.

  4. Back when Mike Piazza played for the Albuquerque Dukes, my dad would take my brother and I to the bleachers to soak in the 93 degree sun and to catch a few foul balls. Now and then I’d get one, and it would be my shining pride for weeks, or until I caught another one. Mike signed my glove no less than seven times that year. After the fourth time, he started to ask me why he should keep signing it.

    “Because it might fade,” I said, smiling, and unable to contain the excitement of an 8-year-old, I’d tell him he was going to be famous and I wanted to show my friends his autograph. He smiled back at me – a worn-out-from-a-double-header-but-still-genuine smile – and he signed my glove. Again.

    Thanks for the story.

    • Jimmy says:

      I love minor league games! I went to see the Phoenix Firebirds play when we were on vacation in ’88. I got Kelvin Torve and T.R. Bryden’s autographs! Awesome day for a twelve year old!

  5. Tom G. says:

    Great story! And congrats on your little slugger getting his first of many foul balls!

  6. Cayman Thorn says:

    Great baseball story. You got me on a baseball kick with this post. I dug into “Shoeless Joe” by the great Ray Kinsella this morning.
    As a Yankees fan, I had nightmares about those Dodgers back in the day. Nowadays I just miss them. What that infield accomplished by playing together for close to a decade, I don’t think we’re ever going to see anything like that ever again.

    • Jimmy says:

      Field of Dreams is my favorite movie, but I’ve never read the book. Even though I grew up in LA, I was an Angels fan (my mom’s from San Francisco). However, in my office to this day, is the 1980 Topps Dodgers infield: Garvey, Lopes, Russell, and Cey. I’ve even got the Steve Yeager for good measure.

      I’m on a pretty good baseball kick myself, watching Ken Burns’ Baseball on netflix. It’s a great introduction to the game for my wife!

  7. Pingback: On One Year Anniversaries | Stories About My Life, 92% True

  8. Lilly Sue says:

    Very cute story! 🙂

  9. sandrabranum says:

    I never cared for baseball, but loved going to the horse races because we had two race tracks close to our house. Loved to watch the horses run! I loved the rodeo too, and always rooted for the broncs.

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