Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Every Face Tells a Story at the Old Ball Game

This photo ran in the Columbus Dispatch this morning after the All-Star Game last night. It's by photographer Mike Ransdell for the Kansas City Star . Thanks for capturing such an awesome moment, Mike!

Look at the faces! There's something about a hard leather baseball coming at you that strips away all reserve. I know--there was a high pop-up foul headed our way when we were at a Columbus Clippers game recently. I had a feeling of impending doom that the ball was going to come down squarely on my head, even though it landed a few rows ahead of us, just in front of the dugout. Depth perception fooled me, like some of these people. The hopeful wristwatch hands at the bottom right, the guy in the blue shirt and white cap at the top--they don't have a prayer. The guy on the far right with his sunglasses on his hat, right hand up and left hand obscured by somebody else's elbow looks like a lifelong fan. You can see in his eyes that he's dreamed of catching a homerun ball.

The dude with the backwards cap, scruffy beard, and shades--yeah,  even he is not too super-cool to lunge for it. I feel sorry for the scrawny kid in the cap and wristband at the bottom center. The ball's coming right for him--he's got his eyes closed and his hand up to block the impact. I hope the one who caught the ball gave it to him.

There's so much more to see and although I could spend all day making up these stories, I have other stories to write. So let's cut to the chase and get to the two people with the best chance. On the left. broad-shouldered, sweaty guy in the gray KC t-shirt--let's call him Stretch--is using The Force to will the ball into his hand. His eyes are closed and he's straining for it for all he's worth. He's played a few ball games in his day. Stretch may be Scrawny Kid's dad. If so, he has a special reason to snag the ball, no? He'd be the hero who saved his kid from getting beaned and also he'd proudly present the ball to his son. What a memory!

But my favorite, to the right, and I hope he caught the ball, is the former rocker with the Bon Jovi hair and shades. He's wearing a sky-blue polo because it's the closest he had to royal blue--he doesn't own any team gear. He hasn't played baseball since he was the last one picked in junior high. Shortly after that he formed a garage band which played a few high school dances in its day, and this guy wrote the songs. He won tickets to the game on a radio call-in show and decided to go since it was free. He's sitting there, not really caring who wins, just drinking in the experience and watching people, when oh, no, the ball's coming straight at him! He stands and reaches with both hands, guitar-wiry fingers splayed, hoping against hope that for once, Stretch's muscular pinky gives way on impact and the ball plops into The Dreamer's hands.

So who do you think caught the ball?