I should have taken my own advice. On my family’s Web site where we sell our Giants’ season tickets, I had written this to entice people to buy baseball tickets from us: “Bring a mitt. Foul balls come our way.”
Last Wednesday, sure enough, a foul ball came my way. A line drive, hit hard, screamed toward me from several hundred feet away like a heat-seeking missile. My initial thought was: holy sh–. It’s coming my way!
So I stood.
And in those three or four seconds, I had these frenzied thoughts:
I can catch it!
Wait, it’s going to hurt!
But I can catch it!
The ball was above me. I knew I had to reach high above my head and jump a little for the ball to hit square on my palms. Should I reach out and touch someone, or in this case, something? I was at AT&T Park, after all. But did I really want to hurt my hand, maybe break it, for a stupid foul ball?
I was wracked with indecision. I had a slight buzz from one beer but was far from being inebriated to do something stupid, like injure my left hand, which I needed for my livelihood. But hey, if the ball takes out one hand, I could still peck away on the keyboard with the other hand!
Here’s a view from our seats, so you can get a sense of the trajectory of the ball.
My sensibility won out.
As the ball zoomed toward me at a million miles per hour, I half-heartedly reached up as high as I could with my left hand. But I did not jump like I knew I needed to, and so the ball grazed the top of one finger, slammed into an empty seat two rows above me with a loud clank, and then it richocheted, hard, off a fan’s forehead. The guy looked OK, but then a few minutes later, he got up and left, and I never saw him again. Ouch.
I slunk bank into my chair. My finger that touched the ball stung. And so did my pride. I wished I had another beer to ease the pain.
“You know,” said my buddy Pete, who never left his seat next to me. “You would have caught it if you had a glove.”
So, for the next few innings, I debated in my head whether I did the right thing. I’ve never caught a foul ball. I kind of went for it. But I didn’t really. To make myself feel better, I concluded I did do the right thing. In reality, the chances of me catching it bare-handed were slim to none. And well, at least my palm didn’t feel like that poor guy’s forehead.