I recently went to a AAA Indianapolis Indians game, and when I sat down in my seat and looked out at the field, I had a memory race through my mind.
It was Spring 1989, early in a new baseball season when I sat down in the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium for a game. The seats were great- 1st base side, halfway between home and 1st. Great seats were very easy to get those days, and cheap. I think is was $6.
Indians 2nd baseman Jerry Browne came to the plate and ripped a liner foul, straight at me. I reached up with my right hand and CRACK! I stopped the ball, but didn't catch it. It fell behind me, into the lap of a cackling woman who was not watching the game. I'm pretty sure I saved her from a horrible facial injury. For her part, she looked astonished and said to her husband, "Look honey. A ball." For my part, I had two fractured metacarpals, making the rest of the game experience fairly unpleasant. No 'thank you' from the cackler or her husband. No offer of the ball. Probably no realization of any kind rattling around back there.
After the memory, my realization: I was sitting in the same location.
Sure enough, 3rd inning, a ball was hit my way, and the memory flashed again. This time, the trajectory was about 6 feet to my left, and a man stuck up his hand. He stopped the ball, but didn't catch it. It rolled over to me. I'm very sure the man saved his 8-year-old son from a horrible facial injury. Before the kid could open his eyes, I rolled the ball over to his feet. He picked it excitedly. "Look Dad! The ball!"
I asked the man if his hand was ok, and he said it was. The difference between a major league and minor league liner, I suppose. I told the boy, "This is where you say 'thank you' to your Dad". Sheepishly, he did so.