A Tale Of Two Baseballs: A Dad's Perspective, PART ONESerge Bielanko
Last week down in Arlington, Texas, the New York Yankees rolled into town to play a little baseball against the hometown Rangers.
And that is just a fine fine thing.
It’s springtime now and the world is simply a better place with baseball in it, and if you disagree with that then you might as well go out in your backyard or down to the local park and dig a hole and jump in it because you are dead inside, pal.
Anyhow, by now you’ve probably seen, or at least heard about what happened at Texas Rangers Ballpark Wednesday night.
During the game, a player lightly tossed a ball up into the stands behind a dugout. As the ball cascaded down out of the sky with the gentle glide of summer’s evening moth, a little boy of about four or five, decked out in his Rangers shirt and hat, swooped upward out of his daddy’s lap and arms and tried with all of his young heart and soul to get that baseball to land in his mitt (which he had brought with him and was always wearing, apparently).
But, this is a different day and age we are living in, people, and seldom is there much room for old fashion things or values anymore. Of course, one could make a reasonable argument that if there was at least one place that some of that ol’ lost Richie Cunnigham brand of chivalry might still be hanging on by the skin of it’s teeth, that place would be at the ballpark, where folks are often prone to fall under the spell of something better and more magical.
What happened the other night was way more Me, Myself, and I/ 21st Century Dipstick than any throwback to a better place or time.
Long story short: the kid had no shot at the ball when a bunch of middle-age guys swollen with BBQ and beer all leaped at it like it was the key to the door where they keep their lost youth. Again, fine. Grown men are just overgrown boys and I’m here to tell you that I have dove across six rows of bleachers before, landing on top of an old woman as if she was standing in some airplane aisle holding a ticking bomb, only to discover that it wasn’t even a foul ball I had been leaping for, but a discarded hot dog wax-paper dilly-dallying on the evening breeze.
Even I would have handled things a little bit better than the nudniks who ended up with this particular baseball. Because, as you’ll see in the video, even the TV announcer is perplexed to point of comedy (his short sincere commentary is hilarious) when he sees what everyone else in the world has now seen.
That little boy, deprived of his pure and simple dream of grabbing a ball tossed by a real big-leaguer, flips around in his daddy’s arms while the tears stream down his cheeks and his mom looks on with the helplessness of a mommy who wants to stick a hot mustard covered hotdog deep into the eye of a moron just a few feet away.
Oh, the people that got the ball.
They look like happy people, people in love, I guess. Little songbird kisseys can be seen between him and her, little whispers, secret love-muffin stuff. They congratulate each other for getting the thing.
Meanwhile, the kid in the seat RIGHT NEXT TO THEM is bawling his tiny face off.
They chit-chat with the people behind them a little, since it seems like the people next to them have their hands full (‘Gosh, why is that kid crying so much, Babs?’) The little boy with the baseball glove is quivering and purplish with sadness. The lady with ball poses with it while her man-friend lines up a real nice camera shot with his smartphone.
The kid dies inside a little more. His tears just keep on coming. You can bet your Ferrari that pic was being uploaded to her Twitter feed while that young guy’s tears were still plopping down on his pop’s legs.
Now I know I know. Life is life and there ain’t no guarantees and this is America and it’s a free country and the rich get richer and blah blah blahdy blah. No one promised this kid a foul ball, and if they did they were lying straight at him. His parents do a really terrific job too, just holding him and comforting him and telling him it’ll be okay. Eventually, bless their Texas heart, somebody somewhere manages to get a hold of another baseball and this time they hand it to the boy and all is right with the world again.
Yet, the question remains.
Why do some people get so caught up in their own trip?
How could that couple that caught the baseball in question actually sit there for a series of insanely uncomfortable minutes while that child cried? There is no way they didn’t hear him, so don’t try that argument.
And so, if they were listening to him while they were celebrating their weak tiny victory, why the hell did they just not hand that ball over to the lad, make his night/week/month, and free themselves, and everyone around them in Awkward-ville, from the new awful iron shackles of greed and self-obsession?
I dunno, maybe I’m overreacting. Who can really say?
One thing is certain and true though. The real Superman in all of this is that kid’s dad. Because if that was me, with my kid, that dude with his camera phone would have been wearing a sweet cap made of cool refreshing American lite beer.
And I would have been the one taking some Twitter pictures then.
Coming later this week, I’ll take a look at a true ballpark foul ball hero. Stay tuned for PART TWO!
Photo credit: deadspin.com
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