On Monday night, I went to Game Three of the ALDS with my father and a family friend. We sat through the unfortunate thrashing that occurred, all 16 runs and myriad pitching changes. The crowd dispersed in waves after the big fourth inning that doomed the night, while others left a couple innings later when it was clear we didn’t have a comeback in us. Our friend left in the eighth inning, wanting to catch the train and get home on time.
We chose to stay, however. And by we, honestly, I mean my dad. Because I was miserable and had no desire to stay and walk out with the Sox fans that had stayed to celebrate their victory. But my dad is the type of fan that goes to a game and stays till the end, regardless of the result, and tries to get the most out of it. I’m normally in the same boat, but last night I just wasn’t having it.
Anyways, we’re among a few Yankee fans remaining at the stadium when the top of the ninth starts. Our seats were square behind the right field foul poll — section 107 — a few rows from the wall. It’s a prime short porch homer target. And Austin Romine is pitching, because why not. And Brock Holt is a home run short of the first postseason cycle in Major League Baseball history. Except we didn’t know that.
Romine gets the first two outs, and the remnants of the crowd have some fun chanting his name, because the situation has become silly and it’s a little funny that he was the most effective pitcher to that point. Then he walks a batter, and Holt gets a plate appearance. You know where this is going. Deep to right, gone. Home run. And where does it land, you ask? A row behind us, and bounces into my father’s hands.
Now, here’s the tricky part. After a moment’s hesitation, my dad chucks the ball back onto the field. Because that’s what you do when the opposing team hits a home run, and somehow the Sox had scored all those runs without hitting one to that point. And a few minutes later, I check Twitter and realize what we just threw away.
There have been plenty of historic balls land into the stands in recent years. Derek Jeter’s famous 3000th hit in 2011, and A-Rod’s in 2015. But this is different, both because it was an opposing team’s player making history that day, and it was so unexpected. Everyone in baseball was counting the hits until Jeter neared 3K, but before tonight I hadn’t even considered postseason cycles, let alone thought to check if anyone had done it.
Obviously, we didn’t have the benefit of knowing beforehand to make the decision. But afterward we came to regret tossing the ball. I don’t even know if Holt got the ball after it went onto the field or not, if he even would’ve wanted it, or if we could’ve swapped it for some Sox-Yanks tickets or something. Personally, I think I would’ve just held onto it if no-one from the Sox asked for it, because it’s crazy that that never happened before yesterday.
But what would you have done, if you knew? Would you have kept it? Traded it in or held onto it for a keepsake? Or would you have tossed it back, gotten a moment of enjoyment out of an otherwise miserable game?