June 7, 2007
My Debut at Fenway Park
In a cool turn of events, I ended up playing in a charity event at Fenway park tonight. Yes, tonight I stood at home plate in Fenway Park with a bat and a batting helmet on and ... well, read on for the whole story.
A few weeks back a friend who was a part of the team playing in the charity event invited me and the family to come to Fenway to watch him play. At the time I mentioned that if they needed any extra players I'd be interested. Not because I'm any good (haven't held a bat in many years), but because a chance to play on that field is pretty rare and I figured it couldn't hurt to at least tell someone I was interested in playing. Even if I totally stunk it would be worth standing at home plate, or in the outfield grass, or anywhere on the field for that matter.
Today just a few hours before we were supposed to head down to watch the game I got an email saying that there was an opening on the team if I was interested.
Skip forward a few hours and I'm walking onto the field in Fenway with glove in hand.
After meeting a few folks, getting a numbered shirt (19), and being put on the batting roster, it's my turn to be on-deck. As my turn to bat comes up the announcer says "Now batting, Mike Kruck." That was my player name tonight. As I step to the plate the jumbotron shows my name on one side and video of me taking my practice swings on the other. Pretty cool.
Now the charity event is just to have fun and raise money, so the rules are quite flexible. Everyone gets a chance to bat, no matter how many outs. But of course everyone wants to do well and get a hit, or score. On defense everyone wants to make a catch or tag/force a baserunner out. Under the rules of the game you can't control how many people get up to bat (everyone gets a turn), but with good defense you can control how many folks score by getting outs and sending players back to their dugout.
So back to the moment. I step to the plate and on the first pitch drive the ball over 2nd base out into the outfield grass (first highlight of the night). It might have been catchable, but it wasn't caught by the player out there. A wild throw to third to try to get a baserunner out gives me room to scamper to 2nd. A double. The next batter singles and I'm standing on third base.
The second highlight is me standing at third base, watching the batter and waiting for a chance to run home and score. I'm looking around the park, up into the stands, at the baseball field and feeling like I'm in a dream. How many times I've watched as the Red Sox get a runner all the way to third and with each pitch there's this intensity centered on getting that runner home. So strange to be physically in that same location.
I had three more chances to bat. Singled each time and scored one more run.
The third highlight of the evening was a defensive play. I was playing in left, quite a bit shallower than where Manny plays, but over in that area. A batter slugs the ball between me and centerfield (there were actually 4 outfielders). I wasn't sure I would get to it, but I sprinted in the right direction and just as it came down I was close enough to reach out and grab it with my glove. That catch really added to the experience.
Excited for the Sox to get back into town and watch them playing to see how being out there on the field, hitting the ball, and running the bases change how I think about the game.
Posted by mike at June 7, 2007 8:19 PM