Boooooo! Give it to the kid!

He sits in his seat, left hand in his fielding glove, eyes transfixed on the field before him.

Like many other kids his age, his dream is to catch a ball. Game-used, player-thrown or -hit, whatever … it doesn’t matter. A ball is a ball, and it was the object of his desire.

This was me as a youth. Hell, it was you, and your friend. It was your dad, your brother, your cousin, your nephew.

It is my son.

My boy in recent months has taken a liking to the game, more so than I ever images he would at his age. I mean, like many baseball-loving dads, I hoped my son would be the kid who would be crushing Whiffle balls with a pacifier in his mouth, or throwing darts from right field to third base before the third grade. But that hasn’t always been the case. Even though he had been exposed to the game since birth, my son until recently hadn’t shown love for the sport.

But then it happened. He wanted to know about cards; about the game; about the rules.

And recently, when attending games, he started bringing his glove. And just a week and a half ago — on June 7, 2019 — while at the Dodgers-Giants game he asked if he (and his sister and cousin) could go to the front two of the bleachers during batting practice to see if he could snag a ball.

They didn’t get close to catching one, but watching their faces being among the crowd of folks with the same childhood dream — was priceless.

At one point a ball had gotten tossed into the stands and a scrum ensued and my nephew managed to get a finger tip on it, before a group of guys crashed into each other and a young girl walked away with it in her hands. No one was upset; hell, I was proud of my nephew for the effort. And found great comedy in watching a group of boys (and men) picking themselves up as the pre-teen girl held it up and flashed a giant smile.

Fast forward to Monday, June 17, a day after Father’s Day. My kids were with me for a few days and I sought out cheap entertainment. Of course my mind instantly went to baseball. I managed to find some bleacher seats for the Orioles at Athletics game and asked the kids if they wanted to go. Without hesitation, both my son and daughter agreed. And as we headed out the door, my son grabbed his glove.

By the time we got to the stadium, the first row on the left-field bleachers was full — which is to be expected in Oakland. They have some die-hard fans in left and right field bleachers, the type that bang on drums and cow bells, wave flags and have hand coordinated gestures.

But, we got there early enough to pick the seats we wanted. And sure enough, as we say down my son had his left hand in his glove, seemingly ready for anything that came his way.

For the first two innings, my son jumped out of his seat for anything that got hit toward left field. He wasn’t the only one. But his instincts were making me proud. Then in the third inning — after the A’s scored two runs — outfielder Ramon Laureano hit a flyball to left field for the third out.

Orioles left field Anthony Santander gloves it and began running toward the infield, and he threw it to Second baseball Hanser Alberto (who at this point was standing between second base and left field) and Alberto threw it into the left field bleachers. The ball clanked off a seat in section 136 and rolled down to section 135, row 29 — right behind my son. My son reached back and hand two fingers on it when an older kid — maybe late teens early 20s — comes flying over from 136 and aggressively grabs the ball, then turns around with his treasure.

Almost immediately, the crowd laid him.

“Booooooo! Give it to the kid!”

I asked my son if he was OK, and he said he was. He explained he had two fingers on it when it got snatched away by the other person in a blue shirt. I put my hand on his head and told him it was OK. I can’t say I was upset because I didn’t see how much control my son actually had of the ball. Also … I don’t know that older guy’s story. Hell, it’s not like the guy appeared to be in his 30s or anything.

Nonetheless, after a few moments, the guy in the blue shirt comes over and hands the ball to my son, apologizes and walks away halfway through my head nod to acknowledge his actions.

It was a great gesture, one I wish I could have thanked him more for at the time — but I froze. I was concerned about my son being embarrassed — also I wanted to make sure he actually held the ball and didn’t let it roll away.

To the guy in the blue shirt, thank you. I wish I could have shaken your hand before you disappeared. It’s not something you had to do, even if the others around you put pressure on you to give it up.

Having said that, what IS the protocol for older kids, young adults or older folks chasing a ball when clearly it’s in the grasp of a kid? Is this something I should have been upset about? Is this a scenario for which I should even be thanking the guy in the blue shirt?

As for the ball … I went aback and watched the replay of the final moments of the third inning. It appears this ball was initially used in a Khris Davis groundout to Hanser Alberto, who threw it to third base on a fielder’s choice — that’s where they tagged out a Matt Olson for the second out. Then on the next pitch Laureano pops out to left and eventually the ball ends up in the stands.

It was of apropos that Laureano was the guy who last hit it. He has been a golden thread weaved through my baseball story over the last year or so. My kids and I were there for his first career homer; I was there in April when he gunned down Xander Bogaerts at home, and again in May when he threw out another player from deep centerfield. And of course now this flyout which my son now owns.

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