There is this ball that I have sitting in my office. To many, it looks like just any other baseball. On most days it just sits there, without someone even looking at it. There is no signature on it, and I have yet to fill out the placard on the baseball stand. But that ball is a baseball I treasure. I wouldn’t say it’s Babe Ruth Esq special, but I’d still be upset if William took the ball to the sandlot one day.
The story behind that ball dates back to 1996. A good year for me as a young boy. My local high school baseball team won the state baseball championship, and it seems that anytime something good is brought up from the past, 1996 is the year. It was June 30th, and we were on our way to Coors Field in Denver. I remember telling my parents, that I was going to catch a foul ball this game. I also mentioned that it was good that the promotion that day was a free hat since I had left my glove back in the hotel room because we weren’t actually sitting in foul ball territory.
I don’t remember the exact inning, but Ellis Burks came to bat. At one point during his at bat, he fouls one off down the third base line. I hear my dad say, “BRANDON LOOK UP!” because more than likely I munching on my hotdog. But without thinking, I hold out my hat. My dad was standing next to me thinking that he had the ball when suddenly, it lands directly into the hat (remember it was a promotional hat that I said I was going to catch the foul ball in) pulling it from my hands into the empty seat in front of me.
My dad was looking around for the ball, when I look down to grab my free hat, because at the time I’m more concerned about a free hat than a foul ball I probably didn’t or won’t get. But when I lift the hat up, the ball hit off of Ellis Burks’ bat is securely in my hat. I hold the ball up like any fan who catches a foul ball does and remember the fans from section #… cheering loudly. This was the moment that I imagined that all of the local TV cameras were on me and that I would make it onto Sportscenter Top 10 plays. I don’t remember if all of that happened, but I remember catching that ball like it was yesterday.
Turn the calendar forward 11 years later, we are sitting at a Kansas City T-Bones game (an independent professional baseball team in Kansas City) and we are walking around taking the sights and sounds of the game in the 3rd inning when a man walks up to my son and hands him a ball that went foul just over our direction. You could see the excitement in his eyes as he held the ball. He might not have caught it but it you could see that the ball was going to be just as special to him as the foul ball was to me.
As the game ended, we start walking towards to the grass berm to watch the post-game fireworks. The players make their way to the locker room walking up the berm when suddenly 1985 Kansas City Royals (and World Series winning) Frank White walks up after coaching first base for the T-Bones. After shaking the hands of fans, he stops and starts signing autographs for the kids. Our son was holding his ball in his hand, and I asked if he would like to have his ball signed. He might not know the how important the guy was who was signing autographs, but he walked into the crowd of kids and came walking back out with Frank White written on the ball.
Much like my dad did, I made sure that his foul ball was kept securely. It sits next to my foul ball on the shelf down in my office, sharing childhood memories of two boys who have a love for baseball. Hoping that someday it doesn’t fall victim to The Sandlot Babe Ruth ball.
Despite that the foul ball that I caught is not signed, it sits there on the shelf, sharing memories of a childhood memory that both my son and I can share for our lifetime.