Saturday night, we went with a group from church to see the Indianapolis Indians play at Victory Field in downtown Indy. The Indians are a minor league team- I believe they are the "feeder" team for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This was the first time our family went to a baseball game together. It brought back memories of going to Reds games with my mom and dad. My dad had the opportunity to have tickets to the game when Pete Rose made his famous record breaking hit... but he turned them down. Ah well, such is life.
This was Teagan's first real exposure to baseball. Our seats were in the lower section of the stadium, by left field, out past 3rd base. Early on, a foul ball flew past us and a friend a couple of rows back almost caught it (all he got was a really sore hand instead). We explained to Teagan that Daddy would be the one to try and catch any balls that flew out our way- her job would be to duck. We were getting close to the 7th inning before we had reached the point that we needed to get the kids home to bed. We mention leaving soon and... Teagan starts crying. "Daddy didn't catch a ball yet!"
We had been explaining that catching a ball in the stands is rare. That we had both been to games over and over and neither of us had ever caught a ball. We had gone to the shop and bought the "game special" baseball hats ($5 each)- one for Jeff and one for each kid (I'm not much of a hat wearer). We'd had hot dogs and cotton candy and cracker jacks and the kids had shared a lemonade. She wasn't lacking for anything! We'd even run into the team mascot- Rowdie- on our way to the souvenir shop. Teagan had great fun watching him goof off with another child and she even went and gave him a hug and then watched as he autographed hats and souvenir balls. She was very excited to bring her hat back to him for an autograph.
But her Daddy hadn't yet caught a baseball for her. So... with a little encouragement from me... Daddy headed off to throw away trash and use the bathroom. Sure enough, while he was gone, the batter popped a foul ball up high and directly behind home plate. It went well out of our eyesight- either into the higher up stands or possibly to the roof. Sure enough... Daddy came back with a baseball.
And Daddy has been Teagan's hero the rest of the night. She is in bed with the baseball tucked in beside her. She talked about it on the drive home. She told him she was so proud of him as we walked to the car.
We've been very careful with our words. We've never said that Daddy caught that ball. Just that the guy hit it, Mommy and Teagan didn't see where it went, and Daddy came back with a ball in hand.
Whatever assumptions are made, it must feel pretty awesome to be your child's hero. And I certainly know that I look to my dad as my hero. Dads are the Great Protectors. Dads are unstoppable. Dads are the Superman of the family. Some might wag fingers or shake their heads at our deception. But we had this perfect evening going and to end it in tears just didn't seem right. Jeff will always be doing things that lend to building a special relationship with his son and his daughter. Bringing that baseball back to our seats is just one way that he's the hero to his little girl. And now we all have some fantastic memories of our first family night at the Indianapolis Indians game.