Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thank You, David Aardsma

We just returned from vacation. By just returned, I mean it’s Monday as I write this. We flew overnight from Los Angeles to Atlanta, landing Monday morning. We spent the last eleven days with family in southern California. The trip included several days in Arizona with stops at the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and the red rock country in Sedona. It was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever viewed. When you see the Grand Canyon, you understand immediately why it was the first area Teddy Roosevelt designated as a national park after creating the national park system. I will talk more about that next week, after I have a chance to review the pictures.

Today, though, I want to talk about baseball.

While in California, we attended a game between the Angels and the Mariners. My in-laws bought Angels caps in advance for the boys and a stuffed rally monkey that my 9-year old adopted.

The most exciting thing about this game for the kids, though, was the chance to see Ichiro. They’d seen him once before when the Mariners visited Atlanta. They looked forward to it then and still remember it. However, whenever the Mariners return to Atlanta, it’s a distinct possibility that Ichiro may have retired by that time. So, this time may be my boys’ last chance.

We went early to watch batting practice and were able to watch from the first base side of the outfield. The Mariners warmed up in front of us. In hopes of drawing Ichiro’s attention, my nine-year old wore a Mariners cap that we have.

Getting noticed, however, was a problem. We weren’t the only ones in the stands trying to get the attention of the ballplayers. Many fans were around us, hoping to obtain signatures or foul balls. Luck didn’t seem to be with us as none of the foul balls bounced our way. Seattle pitchers and outfielders, who were shagging the balls, would often throw the balls into the crowd. However, the players were just as likely to throw the balls back in to be reused.

When players threw balls into the crowd, they often pointed at a kid in the stands to let them know. However, none of the players pointed at my kids.

Until Seattle closer David Aardsma fielded an Ichiro grounder.

He scanned the crowd, likely saw my younger son’s Seattle ball cap, and pointed right at him Aardsma threw a perfect strike with a soft touch. My son caught it. He now had a ball hit by Ichiro, courtesy of Aardsma.

I admit I was nervous. I was afraid my son would drop it. I was also afraid that someone might try to take it from him. The balls are marked with a special logo for the Angels 50th anniversary and are apparently prized by Angels fans. Thankfully, the fans there operate with a non-interference code when someone is chosen.

If only I had it on film. At least, though, I have the image in my head forever.

I saw an announcement that Aardsma will have Tommy John surgery. I wish him a speedy recovery from a grateful parent.

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