Apr 102012
Authors: Matt Miller

Once my sister got hit in the face by a foul ball at a Rockies game.

For years, my family’s season tickets were down the third base line about 20 rows back on the first level of Coors Field, directly beneath a Coca-Cola sign. Most of my early days at Rockies games I spent waiting for a foul ball to come flying from home plate directly to my waiting hands.

My dad always said that because of the location of our seats, we were more likely to have left-handed batters hit balls in our direction. Two of my favorite players were lefties –– Larry Walker and Todd Helton. So every time Walker or Helton or any other leftie got up to bat, I perked up ready for them to hit a souvenir my way.

When my sister got hit in the face by a foul ball it was Jeff Reed, a leftie, who hit it. I was waiting to catch my souvenir and when the ball left the bat, flying toward our section, maybe I was frozen with excitement because I didn’t see it hit my sister.

Confused after the ball landed, I looked to my left. My sister had blood on her hands and for some reason, I thought she had tried to catch it and cut her hand. Then she was crying and holding her nose and people were standing and staring and one of the old people in the purple who checks tickets at the top of the section was running down the steps.

She was taken to the medical station in Coors Field where they said she was fine. The good news was her nose wasn’t broken. The bad news was the ball had bounced so far off her face, it landed in a different section and no one could find it.

They gave her a game ball and sent her on her way, and that particular Rockies game –– one of many I’ve been to in my life –– was ruined, but I’ll never forget it.

Baseball was, and always has been, tied to some of my most vivid memories –– playing little league, going to games with my family, playing catch with my dad –– and even moments I couldn’t possibly remember.

My first outings as an infant were going to Cardinals games with my parents. They said they were always amazed that, despite the noise, I slept soundly through the entire game, allowing them to enjoy it.

I’ve never considered myself a sports fan. I don’t like football –– it’s a brutal sport. I can occasionally get into basketball. Soccer intrigues me, but as an American, I’m obligated to make fun of it. In general I don’t really care about sports, but I’ll always be a baseball fan.

For most of my childhood, I played baseball. I was a catcher. One season, I remember my team didn’t win a single game. Our pitchers were so bad they would walk almost every batter. As a catcher, I loved it. I was an acrobat diving for balls thrown feet away from the plate and digging bad pitches out of the dirt. That season defined my competitive spirit –– a competitive spirit that isn’t all that competitive and is more concerned with having fun rather than winning.

When my parents were thinking of names for me, they wanted something that would be a good baseball player’s name –– a name that an announcer could say in a booming voice like, “Maaathhhewww Milleeeeerrrr.”

I didn’t continue playing baseball though. Instead, I joined a band and got into music and books and writing. I always felt kind of guilty, like I had let them down. But even though I tried to distance myself from the jocks in high school and be more of an artist rather than a sports fan, I couldn’t shake my love for baseball.

Baseball is a game about moments and situations. It’s about a full count with two outs, it’s about the bases loaded in the bottom in the ninth, but baseball is also about the moments and situations in my own life that have stuck with me because of the game.

When I watch baseball, I remember the foul ball that hit my sister and my terrible little league team. I remember being with my dad at games where he tried to explain the complexities of the force out, and I know that baseball and I are inseparable.

I never really let my parents down because even though I didn’t succeed as a professional baseball player, they succeeded in passing down their love of the sport. A 12-6 curveball is beautiful, a successfully executed squeeze play is pure genius and there is nothing more awe inspiring than a homerun landing in the upper deck.

News Editor Matt Miller is a senior journalism major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. He can be reached at news@collegian.com. Follow him on Twitter

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