“We now had the chance to break Derek Jeter’s balls.“
The Bronx, NY – You would probably have no way of knowing, but I used to work at the old Yankee Stadium. For ten sweltering summers I schlepped up and down stairs selling overpriced food stuffs (mostly peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and Coca Cola) to suburbanites in or around section 12 in the upper deck. When asked what it was like working at the Big Ballpark in the Bronx, I usually reply:
” It was great when it didn’t suck.”
Now don’t think that it was all bad. There were some great moments. The best part for me was having several of my best childhood friends also working at the stadium. And few moments were greater than one event on a steamy summer evening in or around the year 2000. On this afternoon, the greatest opportunity in the history of ball-busting would be squandered by My Friend Mike.
The day started as any other day for a vendor at the Stadium would start. I got to the stadium way too early. It was several hours before game time. Well before there were any fans in the seats. I don’t know why we had to get there so early, but we did. The empty stadium offered plenty of places for us to sit around and do nothing until it was time to do some actual work – if you can call throwing bags of peanuts to spastic kids from Scarsdale actual work.
On this particular afternoon, we (myself, Pete, Sean, and My Friend Mike) were sitting in the Field Level seats out in right field talking about whatever young men of our ilk talk about (probably just a series of fart jokes). A few feet in front of us Derek Jeter was tossing with Alfonso Soriano. Soriano was out towards center field and Jeter stood with his back to us just on the other side of the wall. Now The Captain was probably paying as much attention to us as we were to him (we were far to preoccupied making fart jokes), when Soriano threw a harmless ball to Jeter which he promptly missed. Jeter should have caught the ball but as it turned out, the ball hit the wall just in front of us.
Jeter turned towards us to retrieve the ball. He saw us and gave us the I’m an idiot. I should have caught that shrug-of-the-shoulders. This was our opportunity. We now had the chance to break Derek Jeter’s balls. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And you know what we did? Nothing. We froze. None of us came up with anything to say… Except for My Friend Mike.
Mike seized the day. He came up with the greatest ball-breaker in the history of ever. In that split second, he came up with the zing, and rehearsed it 1000 times in his head. This was going to be the greatest moment in My Friend Mike’s life. But when he opened his mouth to burn Derek Jeter, things went horribly wrong. The greatest ball-breaker in the history of humanity turned into:
That was it. “Flying Balls.” To this day nobody, not even My Friend Mike, can tell you what the zing was going to be. Derek Jeter gave us a what the frog is with these kids? puzzled look. He picked up the ball, threw it back to Soriano, and didn’t miss another ball. And that was it. Opportunity gone. We went about our business and Jeter went about his.
The Public Professor tomorrow…