I don’t often get back to Michigan, at most maybe once a year
We’ve lived in Britain since ’98 and Motown’s a long way from here.
But in August last year, 2006, we came over for a 3 week stay
To visit my in laws and while we were there, we saw the Tigers play.
On a brilliant Sunday with several friends, my daughter, my son and my wife,
Detroit beat the Tribe in the very first ball game my son had seen in his life.
They were giving out ‘Pudge’ bats to kids that day, and Tom still has his at home
And later that week I went out and bought him the very first mitt of his own.
He didn’t know which hand to wear it on, but was eager to give it a try,
So I taught him to get down behind a ground ball and use both hands to catch a pop fly.
We watched all the Tigers games live on Fox, and SportsCenter for all the best plays
And I told him stories of great former players like Ty Cobb, and Gehrig, and Mays.
Then as we were watching TWIB one day he said to me out of the blue:
“Dad, can we go see the Tigers again, but this time just me and you?”
There were only a few days before we went home but I said that I’d try just the same
And managed to get us a couple of tix for the Thursday night Rangers game.
As we drove downtown on I-75, he just couldn’t sit still in his seat,
And he talked about Pudge (his favorite player) and of Zumaya bringing the heat.
We arrived just in time for Rangers BP, and found a spot near at the wall
Where we both put out mitts on and patiently waited for a chance to catch a fly ball.
I told him that once, a few years before, I’d caught a home run at a game,
And also that catching a ball was quite rare, but he wanted to try just the same
After 25 minutes we’d had no luck at all so I said “Shall we go to the store?
We can buy you a cap”, but he looked up and said “Can we wait just a few minutes more?”
So we stayed by the wall near the foul pole in right, with all the hits going to left
But Tom wouldn’t budge and he stared towards home with his mitt clutched tight to his chest.
Then a lefty came up and I prayed for a ball that was inside, and that he might pull it –
And right at that second he turned on a pitch and it shot towards right like a bullet.
It started out looking like going to our right, but then started curving a lot.
And I know from its flight it was going to be close and that this would be our only shot.
Loud shouts of “INCOMING” came from behind but no way would I let this one drop.
I reached out my arm above my son’s head, and the ball hit my mitt with a pop.
Tom spun around quickly and stared at the seats to see where the missile had gone
And was ready to charge off and look for his prize, but then he heard me say “Hey, Tom!”
He looked up at me and I’ll never forget that look of pride and love
As I stretched out my hand with the baseball in it, and dropped it into his glove.
Shouts of “Nice catch Dad!” came from all round, and Tom’s grin was about a mile wide
And as long as I live I’ll always remember, and get kind of choked up inside.
That wonderful night when Tom got his ball, and to cap it all off the Tigs won!
I couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect night at the ballpark with Thomas, my son.