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One ballgame, six seats, and three generations

August 25, 2008

by Jen Bakken

Many boys love baseball, and I happen to have two of them.

With my oldest being 18 years old now, my youngest son has spent the entire 11 years of his life watching his big brother play ball.

It should be no surprise that, after growing up basically in the stands, cheering on and idolizing his older brother, that he, too, loves the game.

In fact, it was big brother who taught him all about baseball, threw countless pitches so he could hit them “out of the park,” let him “touch ‘em all,” and played countless hours of catch with him.

With big brother going off to college soon, little brother has been sad and worried about all of their baseball fun not happening as often. He will miss his big brother – his baseball coach.

I decided to get some Twins tickets so they could go to a game together. It was Sunday, August 17 with the Minnesota Twins playing the Seattle Mariners.

To make this game even more special, I got enough tickets so both boys could go, and also their grandpa, two uncles, and one cousin. It was one ball game, six seats, and three generations.

My 11-year-old could barely contain his excitement, and had been counting down the days on our calendar for a month. The morning of game day, I helped him make a sign that read: “Circle us Bert, six seats, three generations.” He also proudly sported his Michael Cuddyer jersey and Twins baseball cap.

They left early to watch batting practice. My son was convinced he would catch a foul ball, and I tried to explain the chances of this happening weren’t very good. I didn’t want him to get his hopes up and have him end up disappointed, but he simply said, “I’ll catch one, Mom, I just know it!”

On the way to the Metrodome, my little guy made his predictions for the game – not only would he catch a foul ball, but he added, “I bet Justin Morneau will have a solo home run!”

When they arrived, they were giving away Twins backpacks and Joe Mauer books to the first 5,000 kids in attendance under the age of 14 years old. My son couldn’t believe his luck and, to him, the only thing better would be to see Justin Morneau hit a home run and also to catch a foul ball.

The whole group found it hilarious when my brother-in-law was almost offered a backpack, because he will be 27 years old in September. I keep telling him one day he will be thankful for his youthful appearance.

Although they missed watching the Twins warm up, they did get to watch the Mariners. There my son stood, with his 10-year-old cousin, as close as they could get to the field. They had their baseball gloves and were anxiously waiting for a ball to come their way.

When Adrian Beltre of the Mariners got up to the plate, he swung and the ball came right to my over excited son. It hit his glove, and back down it went. I’m sure the disappointment was more than clear on his face.

Someone on the field below them had picked up the ball, “Please can I have that ball?” my son practically begged.

No sooner did he say it, and the ball was tossed right back to him and this time – he caught it.

After saying thank you for the great toss straight to his glove, he began to run back to the six seats to show off his catch to the three generations.

The way he held on to it you would have thought it was made of gold, and as far as he was concerned, it was better than gold. He spent the rest of the game holding the ball and cheering on the Twins, who ended up winning the game 11-8. And, sure enough, Justin Morneau did hit a solo homerun.

Once home, my son was talking so fast I could barely understand what he was saying, and he still hadn’t let go of that ball. His face was red, and he was almost out of breath as he told me everything while jumping up and down.

“The Twins had a 5-run first inning, Jason Kubel went 4 for 4,” he rambled on. “And, Carlos Gomez made this awesome diving catch!” he barley took a breath. “I caught a ball hit by Adrian Beltre, and Justin Morneau hit a homerun. It was the best day ever. I told you mom!”

While they were gone I had tried to watch the game on TV, but I’m not very good at sitting still that long. I don’t think they were circled by Bert, but it sure didn’t seem to bother my son.

He claims he isn’t sure who threw the ball back to him, but thought it was one of the announcers. Let me just say, whoever you are – thank you so much for making my son’s day.

August 17 will be a date he will remember for the rest of his life. It also happens to be my late grandfather’s birthday. He passed away last summer, and he loved baseball, enjoyed cheering on his grandchildren, and went to many Twins games.

Maybe he was there at the Metrodome in spirit – and though there were only six seats, maybe there were four generations actually under that white roof, and just maybe dear ol’ gramps had a hand in that ball meeting my little guy’s glove.