If I’m counting correctly, I’ve blogged three times in five years about specific baseball dreams. There was this one from March 2006, these two from the same night in November 2007, and this one about the new Yankee Stadium in January 2009. I’ve always had lots of baseball dreams, but I seem to be having them even more this summer. Usually, these dreams aren’t just about baseball, but rather snagging baseballs. That was the case last night:
It was a rainy night at Shea Stadium, and I was there with Jona. During the game, we were sitting about 15 rows behind the 3rd base dugout, which happened to be the section where home runs to center field were landing. After narrowly missing out on a David Wright homer, I got my chance soon after on another ball. I wasn’t sure who hit it. It was some guy I’d never heard of, and I didn’t see his name on the scoreboard. All I saw was the ball flying high over my head. It occurred to me that it was going to hit the facade of the Loge Level and ricochet back into my section, so I got ready for it, but when the ball dropped down a few rows away, I lost sight of it. The only way I knew where to go was that one man was lunging over the back of his seat and scrambling for it, but the ball was just out of his reach. I raced to the row directly behind him and saw the ball on the ground behind me, tucked just out of reach under a seat. People were closing in on it from all sides, and the ball was just beyond my outstretched fingertips. I took off my glove, reached further out with that, and pulled the ball back toward me by rolling it on the step. I grabbed it with my other hand and jumped up to hold it in the air. That’s when I got a glimpse of the scoreboard. It said that the home run was the player’s first major league hit! I still didn’t see his name — it was Nolan something — but that didn’t matter. I had never snagged a ball that a player actually wanted back, so this was going to be my first chance to experience an exchange. I was still so excited, and I also wanted to make sure that the security people would be able to identify me, so I held up the ball triumphantly and ran through the cross-aisle all the way out toward the left field foul pole. Then I slowly walked back toward my seat. The ball felt cold and clammy, and although I didn’t look at it, I knew that the mud on it was smeared all over. I hoped that the player wouldn’t mind that his ball looked messy, but at least he’d get it back. Before I made it back to where Jona was sitting, a security guard (who was dressed as a cop) and a security supervisor (in plain clothes) approached me. We all recognized each other, and the supervisor said, “Zack, ya gotta give it back. There’s no arguing.” I knew he was wrong. If I wanted to keep the ball, I could have, but I kept my mouth shut because I was planning to give the ball back to the player anyway. I was two sections away from Jona, and the guards were in a rush to take me down into the bowels of the stadium, so I called out to her. She didn’t hear me, so I shouted as loud as I could, and she looked up. I made a gesture with my left hand to simulate taking a photograph, so she hurried over with her camera. The guard and supervisor walked us into the concourse and started heading toward a escalator that led down below the stands. I stopped them and asked if I could get a photo with them. They were kind of annoyed and looked at each other with a ‘WTF’ expression on their faces, so I explained to them that yes, the photo request might seem a little strange, but in order for me to feel good about returning the ball, that was one of the things I wanted — that I wanted to document every part of the process for my blog. They looked at each other and shrugged, and the three of us posed against the outer concourse wall. Jona took a few pictures without a flash. I knew they were going to be dark and blurry, so I asked her to take one with the flash, which she did, but it came out way too bright. I asked her to take a couple steps back and try again, but that’s when the guard and supervisor got really impatient and told me we had to go. That was the end of the photo session. For some reason, Jona had some type of Mets yearbook or program with her, and she opened it up to a signed photo of all three Mets announcers. “See?” she said. “I have a good photo for you right here, and it’s autographed.” I was really disappointed because the photo in the book had nothing to do with my experience of returning the ball, but it was too late to do anything about it. The supervisor stopped near a tunnel at the top of the escalator because that’s where his post was, and the guard was already heading downstairs. I called out to him and asked him to come back up so we could try one more time to get a good photo, but he was gone. I was so angry at that point that I decided to inform the supervisor that he had no right to take the ball from me. I still planned to give it to the player, but I wanted him to know that I was doing so voluntarily. “If I wanted to keep this ball, I could,” I told him. “A hundred percent no!” he shouted. “A hundred YES,” I insisted. “I’ve been doing research on this for a book. A hundred years ago, you would have been able to take the ball from me, but that’s not how it works anymore.” I paused for a moment, and just as I was getting ready to explain why, he said, “You are a creep and a *******.” (FYI, the bleeped word begins with “bas” and ends with “tard.”) I was starting to get really upset because I hadn’t gotten a good photo, and I was dealing with an absolute jerk, and I also hadn’t even considered what to ask for in exchange for the ball. I was unprepared. Everything was going wrong…
…and then I woke up.
To give you a visual, here’s the real-life cross-aisle that I ran through in my dream. Imagine it at night with a game in progress and the stands half-full:
I used to complain about Shea Stadium all the time, and now that it’s gone, I miss it so much. Funny how that works.