It was Godfrey Daniels Community Day at our LV Iron Pigs AAA baseball stadium, the level below the big leagues for the Phillies. Lots of Phillies hats, shirts and Iron Pig logos, a full house for Fathers’ Day and a hot summer afternoon in the park. It was the first time Godfreys did this, and it was a good chance for friends of the club to get some recognition, and, more importantly spend some time out in the community.
The kicker was the fact that a member of this community had the chance to throw out the first pitch, and that fell to me. Frankly, I had been fretting about this for the last three weeks. I’m comfortable in front of thousands of people, but with a guitar and a song. I hadn’t thrown a baseball in ten years.
I asked my son Jaimie to accompany me for this event so we met up early and negotiated the gates, tickets, etc. and eventually found us in a line of 27 other first pitchers. At this point I figured I had totally overestimated my supposed time in the limelight. I would be part of an industrial production line of folks tossing a ball to the Pigs catcher. Dads, little girls with pink baseball gloves, young little leaguers and me. I really wanted to let Jaimie have the honor, partly out of my insecurity but also out of my wanting to pass the moment on to him. He declined saying that I deserved the honor. So, reluctantly, I went through the cattle chute when my number came up and tossed the ball.
It bounced several times before it rolled to the catcher. It was quick and it was dirty and it was over. Rag arm. But, it was what it was and I was glad to have Jaimie there to share it with me. We later signed the ball for our keepsake and posterity.
As we moved up and sat in our section, I was glad that many of my friends had missed it among the various pre-game hoopla, LOUD speaker noise and carnival chaos that goes on during these over-blown shows. With this overproduction that goes on, I really appreciate the small town games I go to at Limeport. But I’m sure I will hear the echos of my lousy first pitch in the future. I can live with that.
The game was out of hand early with the visitors scoring seven runs in the first two innings but it was great to be among friends, chowing down on stadium food and being at the park on a sunny afternoon. It was especially great to be with my son at a baseball game.
Baseball has been a vital link in the Fry family for as long as I can remember. My grandfather PopPop (Roy) and my dad (Wayne) took me to see the Phillies at Shibe Park when I was only in 5th grade. We were able to make it down to the front of the stands for autographs of my favorite Phillie, Robin Roberts plus a couple of minor players. We had come up from South Carolina and I was wearing my Moncks Corners Phillies hat. The players were accessible back then. I still can visualize these moments.
My mom’s family also were big Phillies fans living in the Philadelphia area, so, on summer vacations on Long Beach Island, my dad and my uncles spent many hours listening to baseball on the radio, talking about the club, and collecting baseball cards (and chewing that chalky gum) and talking baseball in all its glorious lore. Arcane rules, questionable calls. Deep roots.
I’ve passed on this love of the game to Jaimie, beginning with his introduction to baseball at Limeport Stadium, through his little league years in CT, and through his wonderful Moravian baseball experience. It remains a glue for us as father and son, and it remains a touchstone for my relations with my dad and his dad. Deep roots.
We took in the game, talked about the woeful state of the current Phillies. (forever Phillies) He showed me the fingering for his knuckle curve (as Dina said, “It’s no different than a G major 7/9th chord”), ate gloriously outrageous hot dogs (wrapped in bacon, with chili, cheese and topped with pork BBQ), a bag of peanuts and sugary sno-cones. And he paid for it all. Yo! I love my son.
It was a glorious day at the ballpark and one that will be part of my history.