It’s the 117th edition of the World Series and the Atlanta Braves defeated the Houston Astros, 2-0, in yesterday’s Game 3 (Oct. 30).
I love baseball. In college, we enjoyed playing it’s counterpart, softball.
Jesse Bernad was U.P. Cebu’s hotshot pitcher and batter; our Intrams MVP. (Jesse would pursue his passion years after our college days by opening Fastball Batting Cages.) In UP-Cebu, my other batchmates included Jeffrey Pabriaga, Dustin Morada and Neil Ceniza.
Watching the World Series this week, I’m reminded of our family’s first trip to the U.S. The year was 1993 and, apart from the visit to Disneyland and drive to San Diego’s Sea World, we watched baseball.
We were in Los Angeles and, with my dad Bunny, I witnessed my first-ever Major League Baseball game. It was the L.A. Dodgers against a rookie team, the Colorado Rockies. That 1993 game was their first-ever meeting and the Dodgers won, 8-0, with Mike Piazza hitting a homerun in Dodger Stadium—the world’s largest baseball park with a 56,000 seating capacity.
The second MLB trip was even more dramatic: As our family moved northward to San Francisco, my cousins had free tickets to a baseball game. No, it wasn’t the famous San Francisco Giants but its neighbor, the Oakland Athletics.
Together with my dad Bunny, brother Randy and our cousins, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and hopped to the Oakland Coliseum where the A’s were to meet the defending champs, the Toronto Blue Jays.
The atmosphere was chaotic and loud. With over 30,000 boisterous fans—many shirtless with Budweiser beers on-hand—it was a thrill. David Cone pitched for the Blue Jays. One of his teammates was Joe Carter—made famous with this “Golden Moment” homerun just months earlier to win the World Series for the Jays.
Mark McGwire, nicknamed “Big Mac” (and who homered 70 times in 1998), was the most famous A’s player then. (Prior to his admission of performance-enhancing drugs.) Sadly, he was absent that day. But Rickey Henderson—who holds the all-time “stolen bases” record—played for Oakland.
Our group was seated at the back of the home plate. We had a close look at the batters. Now, here’s my believe-it-or-not moment: It happened in the fourth inning. I don’t recall who was batting but, when the ball struck his wooden bat, it floated on-air and hovered back—towards our direction.
One... two... three seconds later... the baseball swooped downwards—right towards us.
Bang! It hit the seat fronting us. I jumped down—as did a few others—as we scrambled for the ball. We bumped shoulders. Hands jostled.
Finally, after the scuffle, my hands gripped the white leather. I clasped it hard. Yes! With hundreds of eyes staring at our direction, I lifted the prized catch onto the California clouds.
It was a moment I’ll forever cherish.
As George Will once said, “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.”