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Seeing God at Yankee Stadium

When I caught a foul ball at a baseball game, I felt the divine presence—and it changed my whole life

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After telling him the hardest thing I’ve ever had to tell anyone, I felt buoyant. I swear I heard thunderous cheers, as if I’d hit a walk-off home run.

I wish I could say my writing career turned brilliant from then on, like my life was a feel-good movie. It didn’t. Old habits die hard. On the other hand, I started taking more risks, working harder at being the writer I always envisioned. That voice from Dad, which implied my chosen career was impractical, grew fainter.

***

I still have that foul ball I caught nearly 30 years ago, tucked in a shoebox in my bedroom closet. I suspect I’m not alone among those who have totems like these hidden away, totems we can’t fully explain, though we try.

These days, I’m better at catching the saboteur who trips me up, my yetzer harah. As with catching a baseball, practice helps. And my father, to my surprise, has actually said he admires me, and he treats me less like his little boy, even though sometimes, despite everything, he can’t help himself and suggests that it’s not too late to join the family business.

When I think about catching that foul ball, I still feel in my heart that it wasn’t dumb luck; it was bashert, fate, that I caught it. I seldom pull it out anymore, this future heirloom no one but me really wants, but when I hold it in my palm, I do hear God’s still, small voice. It reminds me of that night and the lessons I’ve learned, ones I try to follow and ones I’ve tried to teach my three adult children: To stand up for what you believe. To look to the heavens now and again when you need help or courage. To claim what you dearly want in life. Even if sometimes, it’s just a soaring white ball.

***

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Stacy Suaya says:

What a beautiful story.

You left out what’s most important – did the Yankees win?????

Just when I was starting to take The Tablet seriously, you published this embarrassment, and featured it too! Good grief. Do you know how much important and interesting stuff there is out there? Shamefully petty and infantile.

marvelous article, beautifully done.

Gill Brociner says:

This is a meaningful and wonderful story, and I am sorry that one of the people making a comment is so grief stricken at its inclusion in the Tablet. The poignancy of this story is very moving and well worth the inclusion in today’s collection of stories.

Leonard Felson says:

I think the Yankees did win, but the truth is I don’t remember!

Thank you for this kind, simple reminiscence. It is a reminder that if we take the time to look at the world through a certain lens of the spirit – we just might find the divine hidden in the seemingly mundane. A kavanah for Shabbat that is not the least bit petty.

BobWV says:

For a nice story of the intersection of Judaism and the Yankees, try Mark Helperin’s, “Perfection” in the collection “The Pacific.”

Michael Quint says:

Your story brought back a memory from 1967. I was a student at Old
Dominion, and we drove that day to UVA for an anti-war rally held in the
basketball center. While waiting for Jerry Ruben to speak to us in the
packed, round stadium, a single frisbee was being thrown around the
crowd. I watched as it soared from one person to another, and then it
flew directly to me and I locked onto it, my outstretched arm catching
it while surrounded by a dozen waving arms. I feel joyous and chosen
at that moment..

Years later my six year old son was at his first
Orioles game. In a sparsely populated stadium, a foul ball landed a
few feet away and rolled to his feet.He picked it up and
stood up, to a cheering crowd. He was quite happy.. A month later
we attended his second baseball game. When we reached the seventh
inning, he turned to me, and asked: Where is my foul ball?

I thought your story, your dad, and your lesson were just wonderful.

prasuncoli says:

my roomate’s mother makes $76 an hour on the computer. She has been laid off for seven months but last month her paycheck was $20571 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on  Ask25.c­om

lumiss says:

Lovely. Thank you for this wonderful piece.

tulane75 says:

I walked into the Joe Riley Stadium two weeks ago for the South Carolina Gamecocks vs. The Citadel baseball game. As I walked to my seat, the game’s first batter fouled it back striking the facing of the second deck and careening back towards me. Barehanded, in the air and clean is how I caught it. It would have been special no matter what, but in the presence of close friends was the best! In almost 60 years of going to baseball games, I have caught two foul balls in the air, both at “The Joe” in Charleston, SC. Your description was perfect! Thanks!

tulane75 says:

I walked into the Joe Riley Stadium two weeks ago for the South Carolina Gamecocks vs. The Citadel baseball game. As I walked to my seat, the game’s first batter fouled it back striking the facing of the second deck and careening back towards me. Barehanded, in the air and clean is how I caught it. It would have been special no matter what, but in the presence of close friends was the best! In almost 60 years of going to baseball games, I have caught two foul balls in the air, both at “The Joe” in Charleston, SC. Your description was perfect! Thanks!

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Seeing God at Yankee Stadium

When I caught a foul ball at a baseball game, I felt the divine presence—and it changed my whole life

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