First, a story: A few years ago, my little sister was living in Boston when Jon Lester threw his no-hitter. I’d seen highlights of the final out, so I knew about the milestone, and within a few minutes, my sister called me. There was enough noise in the background that I believed her when she said she was at Fenway. Now, my sister knows and likes baseball – she’ll go to games anywhere — so she understood what a no-hitter meant, but she had no idea of the historical significance of what she’d just seen.
“The crowd went crazy,” she told me. “Was that his first one or something?”
That’s my random no-hitter story. Here’s David Fox’s.
David is our next Pinch Hitter, and he’s in his final semester at Binghamton University. He wrote that he’s been a programmer most of his life, “so I’ll probably be doing that after college.” David also enjoys photography, writing, collecting sports memorabilia, and following the Yankees. You can also check out his personal blog.
I just turned 22, and it’s hard for me to believe that I have baseball memories which date back more than a decade. Through the years, I’ve formed a mental scrapbook of all the great Yankee moments I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Each “page” features one of these memories from my unique perspective. Only recently did I fondly, yet somewhat begrudgingly reflect on a bit of history that I was present for during the magical 1998 season.
In the late 90’s, as some might remember, a fad called “Beanie Babies” had reached its peak and everyone wanted them. My mom and her friend were avid collectors and there was little they wouldn’t do to get their hands on the rare ones. When they heard that the Yankees were featuring a Beanie Baby giveaway, they knew they needed to get tickets. I was only 8 at the time, and my love for baseball had not yet emerged. Looking back, I’m pretty certain my friends and I wouldn’t have been invited if the giveaway weren’t only for kids.
Fast forward to May 17, 1998. It was Beanie Baby Day at Yankee Stadium, or as it’s sometimes better known: the day David Wells pitched a perfect game.
In the morning, my mom and her friend set out to the stadium, and they dragged my 8-year-old self and my two friends with them. We got there, received our prized Beanie Babies and took our seats.
Let’s do a quick rundown of our cast: We had two moms who that didn’t know baseball and three 8-year-old kids whose attention spans were less than admirable — a recipe for baseball-spectating disaster!
Unsurprisingly, when my mom decided in the sixth inning that it would be smart to leave so we could beat traffic, there were no objections. I can only imagine the odd looks we got as we happily walked out of Yankee Stadium with a perfect game in progress!
About an hour after leaving, my mom and I opened the front door of our house, and all we heard was my dad yelling, “How could you guys leave early?!?!? Do you realize what happened?!?”
I can’t help wonder if we were the only five people out of the 49,820 in attendance to leave Yankee Stadium before the last pitch that day.
Thirteen years later, I’m a die-hard Yankee fan and I have been for years. My early-exit perfect game experience has left me with positives, negatives, but most importantly, lessons. Although I didn’t get to appreciate what I saw and could have seen, I ended up with a ticket stub and Beanie Baby from the game, both of which I still have. But obviously, as a huge baseball fan, it’s difficult to accept that I left a first-hand viewing of baseball’s rarest feat. I’d do anything to go back in time and stay until the end. However, this leads me to the lesson.
It has become abundantly clear to me that there is so much more to witnessing history than just being present. It’s the ability to truly appreciate the significance of the event that means the most. So I propose this to dedicated baseball fans: If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the stands at what is shaping up to be a significant baseball moment, or maybe even a perfect game, take a good look around. There might be 50,000 people in the stands, but how many have the knowledge to truly appreciate the incredible moment they’re about to witness? If you’re one of those lucky ones who can be watching a perfect game with the aptitude to realize you’re getting to see something that’s happened 20 times in 140 years, then you certainly get to take the event in at a higher level.
When you’re watching any incredible baseball moment unfold, I implore you never to take the fact that you’re able to fully appreciate it for granted. There’s a great chance the significance is passing by many people right around you, like it did to me that day.
It might even be nice to let an unknowing spectator in on the secret.
Photo from David