Last night, Kelly and I joined some friends from work at Tropicana Field to watch the Rays lose to the Blue Jays, something we do from time to time. In the second inning, I caught a foul ball that came wildly bouncing around our section.

Everybody in our group got a kick out of it, and I savored the feeling. Normally I seem to have the worst reflexes in the world, but somehow I reached out and snatched the ball as it passed in front of me without even leaning far forward. That moment was a thrill for me.

Two innings later, a little girl (maybe seven years old?) who had come with our party was interested in the ball and asked to see it. I let her play with it and turn it around in her hands, and she seemed awed. Kelly nudged me and pressured me to give it to her, and I could see other adults in our party looking at me expectantly. When the girl offered it back, I told her she could keep it, and she was delighted. Her family thanked me.

The problem is, I wanted that ball. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to catch a ball at a game. I was thinking of going to a sporting goods store the next day to buy a display case to keep it on my shelf.

I wasn't going to argue with people. I could already picture some kind of Larry David scene happening, where I'm selfishly opposed to the happiness of a child and everybody's mad at me. I don't want to be that guy.

But I also stewed over it the rest of the night. I was not mad at the other adults, just sad that I had readily given away something that I wanted. What did this incident say about me? I have a lifelong habit of rolling over and not protecting my own happiness when somebody wants something that I do too. Here, I literally had a dream come true in my hands, and let it slip through my fingers. Maybe I felt this sadness more intensely because I'm at a crossroads at work where the role that I want feels like it's getting away from me.

My sadness lifted when I got home and went online and saw how cheap it would be to buy a replacement. It's not exactly the same, but close enough. I'll keep it on my shelf and this time, nobody else can have it.

Eleven Replies to I Am Not Larry David

Steve West | April 30, 2016
"Here, I literally had a dream come true in my hands, and let it slip through my fingers."

That may be true but should be tempered by the reality that you've changed that little girl's life. Perhaps subtly, but definitely changed. Changed by the display of generosity of another human being. You have the fortunate circumstance of sacrificing a dream and substituting it with the knowledge that you've made a difference in another person's life. I can't guarantee that this girl will remember your act of kindness - but she may. She may reflect on this later in life and act similarly. She may even subconsciously act in a "pay it forward" manner without even connecting the two events. You should be proud of yourself and realize that the memory of the baseball catch will never go away and is enhanced by the awareness that you've made a difference for the better in a child's life and the future adult she will become.

Chris Lemler | April 30, 2016
Scott you did a really nice thing to give the child the ball. I know it probably made her day that you did that. Catching a fly ball is something I would of love to do but, my chance as not come yet. Next Sunday I will get another try to do the same thing you did at Tropicana Field. And if I was in your position I would probably do the same thing you did. She probably thinking I never gotten a ball.

Scott Hardie | May 1, 2016
Thanks, guys. Well said. I was just looking to make the kid happy, but if it has some positive effect on her in the long run, then all the better. And I feel silly now for focusing so much on the physical trophy of the ball itself; what mattered was the experience, which I cannot lose.

Chris Lemler | May 1, 2016
Well when that kid grows up Scott that girl/boy will never forget what a nice guy you were when she/he finds out from her parents that some gentleman gave the ball to them :)

Aaron Shurtleff | May 1, 2016
What you do (and if I could find the video, I would have posted it) is bring a ball with you to the game. Then, when you catch the game ball, you sneakily substitute it for the ball you brought with. That way, you can look generous for giving away the ball, but actually keep the game ball!!!

But, seriously, though, I will echo what was said above. You did a great thing!

Wait, the girl came with your group... Was it the daughter of someone important? Could this possibly parley into good things for you at work?? can tell who the cold-blooded opportunist among Scott's friends is. :)

Scott Hardie | May 1, 2016
That's a good idea about the replacement ball! I will try to think of that in the future. :-)

I think the girl was the granddaughter of a guy in tech support. He seemed grateful, but we've interacted once in my three years at the company, so it shouldn't lead to any benefits that I know of. No one in management was present.

Trying to payley the gift into some benefit at work strikes me as a Larry David thing to do. :-) I haven't really seen much Curb Your Enthusiasm (I tried but couldn't get past the intense hostility), so I'm basing my sense of him on George Costanza.

Steve West | May 1, 2016
A framed photograph of that awesome selfie would appeal to me much more than the ball itself (despite the number of visible empty seats).

Scott Hardie | May 1, 2016
Kelly suggested the same, and I might do that. I like the idea.

It's the Tampa Bay Rays. That was a well-attended game for them.

Scott Hardie | June 9, 2017
Update for anyone interested: The grandfather in tech support saw me a couple of times in the hallway since then and said how pleased he was that I generously gave the ball to his granddaughter. Then out of the blue this week, he walked up to my desk and handed me the ball while I was in a conversation with someone. I took a moment to protest and say I don't need it back and that the kid could keep it, but he said that outside of playing catch a couple of times, she had forgotten about it in some drawer and he wanted me to have it. I was too busy with the work-related conversation to object further, so the ball is now back in my possession, I guess. Now there's a new dilemma: Through no action of my own (unless he found this blog), I feel like I have deprived a kid of a prized souvenir. I think back on moments from my own childhood when I discovered that my parents had gotten rid of cherished items that they believed incorrectly that I wouldn't notice missing, and how much it stung every time. And yet, if I take the ball back to the grandfather and insist that the kid keep it, I can tell he'll object, and it will become this dumb escalating contest of who's going to be more polite and/or generous. I really don't want to argue with anybody about a baseball, especially when the grandfather himself is a) trying to be really nice to me at the expense of his grandkid and b) now working more closely with me on a regular basis. I guess I'm going to keep the ball in the interest of settling this matter, because I have already given it way more thought than it's worth, but it still feels like depriving the kid is wrong and I'm complicit.

Erik Bates | June 9, 2017
I wouldn't say you're depriving the kid of anything.

It sounds to me like the biggest take-away that the girl likely got from this whole thing is the joy of being the recipient of generosity from a stranger. It was something she wanted at the time, and was thrilled she got it. But now, the object itself is irrelevant to her. She may remember the feeling of joy the day that some kind stranger let her have a ball at a baseball game, but the whereabouts of the item itself won't be as important to her as it is to you.

I'd say you both come out ahead in this deal.

Scott Hardie | June 9, 2017
Good points. I'll think of it that way. Hopefully she will too.

Logical Operator

The creator of Funeratic, Scott Hardie, blogs about running this site, losing weight, and other passions including his wife Kelly, his friends, movies, gaming, and Florida. Read more »

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