I didn’t go to a lot of baseball games growing up. My dad worked 7 days a week (plus the occasional double shift) and with four kids at home, there wasn’t a lot of extra money for things like baseball tickets. Add in the 3 hour trip across the state to get to old Tigers’ Stadium and it equaled out to limited live baseball exposure.
But I sure remember the games I did attend. The one that sticks with me the most is also the first game I ever saw: the Tigers hosting the Oakland Athletics. This wasn’t just any Oakland team, either. This was the Oakland of Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Rickey Henderson. But a pretty mediocre Tigers team managed to win that day and from our left field seats, my dad, my brother and I saw a bit of history when Cecil Fielder crushed a home run out of the park and literally right over our heads.
I remember the home run vividly because the ball left Fielder’s bat and came straight toward us. We followed the arc and realized it was going to come down right on top of us…..until it hit the roof over the balcony where we were sitting and continued out onto the street below. My dad talks about that moment to this day and how the ball was coming straight for my brother.
I mention all this because these images came rushing back when I read about what happened in Texas last Thursday. Baseball games are happy moments that define my youth but for some young kid, a baseball game will be the last memory he has of his father.
There are a lot of questions that pop into my head. How was there no netting in place to keep someone from falling 20 feet? What’s going to happen to Josh Hamilton and his already fragile psyche? But mainly I wonder about that little kid.
I was sad when Fielder’s home run sailed out of the park and out of our hands but I still have that moment that I can relive with my dad. The only memento this kid gets is to relive his dad falling 20 feet while trying to create a similar memory.