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Article: Big Splash? More Like Big Slash

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JJ Fernandez - 2016

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Outfield-Cedar Rapids Born March 30, 1994 Drafted 7th round 2012 out of International Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. 215/268/241 Last y...
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Off Day Story Time: The Day I Caught A Foul Ball

My girlfriend had gotten us tickets for the game in May, and as soon as I saw where the tickets were I started teasing her about how we were going to be in the line of fire. As has happened many times in my life, I was exactly right.

(Pause, just to let that statement sink in).

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I had never been to Safeco before and I have to say I was very impressed. The general openness of the ballpark reminded me a lot of Target Field, and if you could ignore the large alien spacecraft in right field, it was very easy to forget that you were in a ballpark with a retractable roof.

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Aforementioned alien spacecraft, last seen in the film Independence Day

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Welcome to Safeco!

Our seats were in the second row about 30 yards past first base, and it was awesome to be so close to the field. I was, however, very aware that this is a place where we might see a few foul balls, and if we did see any, they likely wouldn’t be fly balls.

Naturally, I was giving Allison a bad time about this, and unfortunately I had forgotten my glove in the car. The karmic wheel had been spun at that point, and in the top of the 2nd inning near the end of Aaron Hicks‘ 10 pitch at bat, it landed on me.

I don’t know about you, but everytime I see a foul ball at a baseball game, there is that brief moment where it looks like it is coming right towards me, even when it isn’t. If you are like me, most of your life you will have dreamt about having a foul ball hit to you, and you have also hoped than when it finally happened, that it wouldn’t be a line drive, but “them’s the breaks kid.”

Off the crack of the bat I knew it had a chance of getting to us, and boy did it get to us quickly. I kept waiting for it to “not be coming directly at me,” but that never happened. It was funny how the whole thing seemed to happen in slow motion, I didn’t even have time to stand up. In retrospect, I totally could have caught it. I got both hands on it, but there was a woman with a little kid sitting next to me, so I was really just trying to knock it down.

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I attached a Gif of the video back on the Pond. It is pretty difficult to see me get the ball, but you do see it bounce down into the front row.

At the end of this you can see the guy in the front row with the ball right before he handed it to me. I had no idea where it went, and I was too busy doing my super sweet re-enactment of what had just happened. You can see Allison’s head next to me, just coming out of her super defensive crouch, I felt very protected.

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What just happened?

When the guy handed me the ball I could barely believe it. I had dreamt about this moment for so long and for it to be finally be here was unfathomable. But, in the countless times I had had this fantasy, I always wanted to give the ball away to a kid, since I am older and it would mean much more to that kid than it ever could to me.

However, it was not easy. I felt like Bilbo Baggins being asked to give up the ring by Gandalf.

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Keep it, you deserve this.

In the end the good won out, and I gave the ball to the blonde kid sitting in front of me. It was his dad who had handed me the ball in the first place, which was pretty nice, since he just easily could have kept it. I felt good about the whole interaction, though I will mention that the kid didn’t seem that psyched about it; he later mentioned that this was the 4th ball he had gotten at a game, and the 2nd that very day. I took it in stride on the outside, on the inside it was more like:


Four balls?

That being said, it was a pretty great day overall. I became a hero to the people sitting around us for a few innings, with the loud Canadians sitting behind us remarking that “Justin Morneau” –me– saved their lives. When they started yelling idiotic comments at the ball girl in the later innings I told them that I was “starting to regret it.”

However, if nothing else this event did give me a little more leash to obnoxiously cheer for the Twins at certain moments through the game. I didn’t want to be an annoying away fan, but when Morneau hit his home run, I was definitely standing. The Twins ended up winning the game 4-0, and I was glad to see my favorite player play, in what was his last season in a Twins uniform.

This is probably excessive for a recap, but I have been to a lot of baseball games in my life, and it is likely I will never get another foul ball. If nothing else, I am glad I have this checked off my list. This seems to be the theme this year in many ways, and reflecting on it, I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people for making this year possible, and that list now includes Aaron Hicks.

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