Batting Practice at Fenway? Not Bad!
|My dad hitting at Fenway|
At 9:07 a.m., I got a call from my dad saying that he was going to take batting practice at Fenway Park today thanks to my Uncle Dave. For YEARS my dad has been telling me that he "absolutely" could take one out of Fenway. He's said it so many times in my life that I eventually started to believe him. We (baseball players, obviously, not you common folk) have all hit balls, at some point in our playing careers, that probably would get out of that park. But, he's almost 50 and that dream may be dead. I was jealous and told him to record the swings so I could make fun of him later, trying to insult him because I wasn't going to baseball's cathedral.
I now am in a semi-severe state of FOMO (fear of missing out, for those keeping score at home) at my internship. My dad is about to pepper the Green Monster like he's Big Papi, and I'm doing spreadsheets. I kind of forgot that life had a meaning. There was nothing but blank stares and mild grunts.
Flash forward to 11:40 a.m.: I'm sitting at my desk and get another call. It's my dad again, saying that they are on their way to the park and are beyond excited. The idea of going to the game is floated around, but doesn't muster up much steam on my end. There would be way too much FOMO for my heart to handle hearing my dad talk about how he was on the field just mere hours earlier. I was like a sad puppy, or sad rabbit, or something.
Moments later, I get the call that would change the trajectory of my day drastically. I got the call up to the bigs. No more was I a lowly intern staring at a computer screen. I was going to have my chance to shine, to hit at the field that molded me as a young fan and baseball player.
I looked like Doug Mirabelli speeding my way to Fenway to catch Tim Wakefield back in the day. (Link, for those who suck and don't know what I'm talking about.) I parked my car in Kenmore Square without a care in the world, and sprinted to Gate D like my presence actually meant something to anyone in the immediate area.
Tired and very out of shape, I arrived at Gate D. I soon realized that wearing a sweater, jeans, and boat shoes to batting practice at my favorite park of all time was not my best idea. I was sweating more than a pig on Christmas.
I ran by security and was sternly told that my most recent move was not going to fly. After being called back to be searched and given a waiver, I was personally escorted on field by one of John Henry's henchman, who actually was a very sweet young woman, but that doesn't matter.
Taking the field was surreal. I looked around and realized that I was going to stand in the same spot that my baseball heroes have stood. Ted Williams, David Ortiz, Trot Nixon. They would have been proud of my unrelenting tenacity to get my ass to the ballpark. True ball players never lose their edge.
Or so I thought.
Stepping into the box was something I'll never forget. Looking up and seeing the sheer size of the field was amazing. I dug in for the first pitch...and ripped it up the middle...right at the screen. I proceeded to do that for the next 5 pitches. I was back into high school baseball mode where I wasn't trying to crush a ball. I was trying to get on base, for some odd reason.
Dumb, dumb, dumb, small, brain. "THIS IS FENWAY! HIT ONE OUT!" I yell at myself in my head, in between brain throbs and gasps for air. I then remembered why you can't try to hit one out, it just doesn't work that way. My next few balls dribbled in the infield like I was some kid that didn't make it out of little league.
I ended up hitting some decent balls to right and left field, but came embarrassingly short of the Monster. (This is where I plug my dad and say that he apparently short-hopped a ball off the wall. Good for him. Although I wasn't there to see it and it may be a lie, good for you, dad.)
My next round of BP went slightly worse than the first round. By this time, I was extremely tired and realized just how out of shape I really was. I was trying so damn hard to hit the Monster and just didn't come close. I did hit a couple balls in the gap that would have made JBJ shake in his boots, which I'm proud of.
I will not mention that the last round was only three pitches. I am above saying that my dad did not make contact on his final three pitches and they had to give him another one because they felt bad. I just won't do that. I would be a bad son, and frankly, that's just not me.
Tired from 30 swings, I sat down in the visitors dugout, thinking about how this was the peak of my life. Nothing will come close to that experience, and I owe it all to my Uncle Dave. It was a great few hours with family and I will never forget it as long as I live.
Although I did not hit a home run at Fenway Park, I hit a ball that would have made JBJ cry. And you know what? That's enough for me.
|Man, Myth, Legend: Uncle Dave|