Tate's a sports guy. We spend a lot of time shooting hoops in the basement, and talking about division rivals, and practicing hand signals for false starts and incomplete passes. The other day he sat and watched a hockey game on TV by himself for like two hours. What five-year-old does that?
Right now, he's really into baseball. He just started his first season of coach-pitch and he wants to play catch every second of the day.
So what better time to go to a Bees game? (Big thanks to Chase for the invitation.)
When I got home from work, Tate was already wearing his hat and glove. "I'm ready to catch a foul ball," he beamed. I figured I better bring my mitt, too.
If there were ever a night to catch a foul ball, this was it. After raining all day, the skies had cleared up but it was still really cold. There were only about 300 people in the stadium.
Chase's seats are right behind home plate. They're great for watching balls and strikes, but thanks to the backstop net, they're not so great for catching foul balls—something Tate pointed out immediately.
"Whatever, dude." I retorted. "I have a feeling a ball will go straight up over the net and into our gloves!"
Tate seemed doubtful.
But sure enough, in the third inning a player fouled one of straight back. Thud! We turned just in time to see it hit the roof of the stadium and bounce straight back. Tate and I both stood up with eyes—and mitts—wide open.
As it came toward us I had enough time to think:
And then snap! It was in my glove.
The crowd went wild! (Probably.)
I've never seen a happier five-year-old than when I took the ball out of my glove and put it into his.
But what good is a ball if you don't get to play with it? We spent the rest of the game practicing grounders on the grass behind right field. Chase and I were frozen. Tate would have kept playing forever had we let him.
As we walked back to the car, I asked Tate if he'd had a good night.
"Well," he said. "It wasn't that epic."
"It wasn't epic?!" I countered. "We caught a foul ball!"
"Yeah, but that was the only epic part."
That Tate, he's a tough man to please.
The second we got back home, Tate made sure to show off his new ball to everyone in the house and recount its miraculous journey to his mitt.
Then he turned to me and said, "Dad, I need one of those cases for my ball" (just like the one my mom bought for my first home run ball when I was in little league).
When it was time for bed, Tate padded off to his room with his usual accouterments—his blanket, his stuffed monkey...and his new baseball. He needed to make sure it slept in the bed with him.
Seems like a pretty epic night to me.