Sunday, June 09, 2019

The Foul Ball

The above picture was in my Facebook memories this morning.

A similar one was in Tim Parry's.

In each case, it was a picture of Sean holding a baseball.

We got the ball at Coca Cola Park, which is the home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.

Let me explain a little more.

For an all-too-brief stretch, Tim, Jason Intrieri, and I had a tradition. It started with the idea that we wanted to have breakfast at Waffle House. But simply driving to the closest one (Bethlehem or Allentown, or the two in the Scranton-Wilkes Barre area) wasn't enough. We needed something else to do, so we added a minor league baseball game.

At first, we went to Reading to watch the then-Phillies (now the Fightin Phils). It's a beautiful classic ballpark, tickets were reasonable, and food wasn't bad (if we were hungry).

The first year, the three of us added Tim's friend Sheryl Rosen. It's safe to say Sheryl was quite a character. Every time I try to write a story from that day, I decide there's no easy way to tell them.

We still laugh about it. The part we don't laugh about is Sheryl died of cancer in 2017.

Other fourth people got to come along unless we kept it to just the three of us. We added a side trip to the VF Outlet Center in Reading, and another meal until it became "Breakfast, Beer (optional), Bargains, Burgers, and Baseball."

Besides Reading, we tried Scranton, where I caught a foul ball down the right field line as we were all kind of quietly watching a game.

In 2013, Sean joined us when we went to Allentown, where the Iron Pigs play. We got front row tickets down the third base line. The view was great.

In the first inning, a bouncer came rolling down the line. I leaned over the wall, aware that I didn't want to 1) fall over and 2) interfere. The ball hit my hand and  -- to this day -- I can still feel it spinning out of my hand.

I failed. Nobody seemed to notice and nobody seemed to care.

When I caught the ball in Scranton, my options were to try to catch it or let it possibly hit one of us. I caught it and thankfully avoided the wrath of the people in that park who would have booed me. I held onto it before it fell and gave it to a kid who asked for it after the game.

In this case, I thought it was a lost ball.

Then the ballgirl appeared and handed it to me.

Beaming with pride and adrenaline, I put into Sean's hands.

And that's the smile you see on his face.

Incidentally, that day was another harbinger. A new restaurant had opened a few miles away in Allentown that piqued the interest of Tim and Jason. I had been to a different location once and thought it was OK but didn't think I was hungry enough.

Being a good fellow traveler/co-pilot, I went along.

We went to Golden Corral. Sean immediately fell in love and a new favorite place was added to our list of (unhealthy) delights. We also occasionally worked in stops at Wawa, Sheetz, and Fuddruckers.

It was never boring.

Those days were a lot of fun. It's been a few years now since we've done it.

The laughs linger.

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