Since my office is within walking distance of Coors Field, I have been known to take an hour or two during work hours, and catch a few innings of a Rockies game. I undo my laces, put on my sunglasses, and immerse myself in the great game of baseball, played during the day, as it should be.
On one of those days, I could not help noticing a young boy with his parents sitting five rows in front of me. Like most kids, (and many adults), he had his glove ready, and was anxiously hoping for a ball to come his way. What caught my attention was that this young boy appeared to have recently been through a series of treatments of some kind, and may have been dealing with a serious illness. He was very thin, pale, without any noticeable hair, and needed his parents assistance as he drank his soda, and ate his hot dog. His mom and dad could not take their eyes off him, and seemed as thrilled as he was to be at the ballpark on this beautiful day in June.
Balls were flying everywhere, except to him. Even when the fielders came to the dugout between innings and flipped the ball into the stands, nothing came our way. It was driving me nuts. At the next changeover, I walked down to where they were sitting, and politely asked the boy if I could help him get a ball. His parents nodded their approval, and we were off on our quest for the holy sphere.
Getting a ball at a baseball game is not difficult, but it can be tricky. You have to be at the right place at the right time. Hundreds of balls come into the stands, most of them during batting practice and between innings. I decided that my strategy would be to ask the first base coach, Dave Parker, if he would not mind giving a ball to my young friend. Being polite always helps. The two of us timed it perfectly. We walked down the steps, and were standing right behind the visitor’s dugout as the team came off the field. We had to act quickly, because it would not be long before we would be asked to go back to our seats.
“Hey Cobra, how ‘bout a baseball for my young friend here”, I shouted. He looked directly into both of our eyes, and then disappeared into the dugout. I was devastated. I could only imagine the disappointment my young friend was feeling. We stood there for what seemed like an eternity. I was not sure what to do, but knew that very soon, we would have to return to our seats.
I’m not sure what went through Dave Parker’s mind when he got to the dugout. It may have been his surprise that someone actually remembered his nickname from his days with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Or maybe it was the fact that when he saw this young boy behind the dugout, with his eyes wide open, and his glove in his hand, he instinctively reacted in a way that most, if not all major league baseball players do. He emerged from the dugout, and looked at the boy with a huge smile. He had with him two baseballs, and rolled them gently over the dugout to the boy. We both said thanks, and watched as Parker’s 6’7” frame went back in the dugout. As we turned and walked back to our row, the whole section of fans started clapping. They all knew what had just taken place, and were thrilled with the outcome.
When the boy sat back down, I saw in his eyes the immense power of baseball. The game has an amazing impact on children who dream. That’s the baseball I love, and that’s the baseball that will forever be.