Last week, his Grammy emailed us with a possible chance to take part in a batting practice session at Fenway Park. He could have one go-round...10 balls to swing at. I asked Evan if he wanted to do it. I had to explain that it would be off a pitching machine (which he has never faced before) and that they may not be able to set it down low enough for his small strike zone. I wanted to make sure he understood, before we got there, that it was entirely possible he would swing 10 times and miss 10 times. This wasn't like playing with Grampy or Daddy (who would never end on a miss!) and that he would get 10 swings and then it would be the next batter's turn. He didn't hesitate. "But Mom," he said, "I could swing and miss 10 times AT FENWAY PARK! I would be standing at HOME PLATE, AT FENWAY PARK! Of COURSE I want to do it!!" Thus, I began working out the arrangements.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to get him at least SOME time in front of a pitching machine before the big day, I called a few places that have batting cages in our area. They are all closed for the season. Just on the off-chance something cool would happen, I called the head baseball coach at UMaine. I fully expected his Administrative Assistant to calmly take a message and never get a response. Amazingly, not only did the Head Coach answer the phone, he invited us over to use their $40,000 pitching simulator! They set it as slow as they could and as low as they could and Evan loved every minute of trying to hit 40mph "fast" balls that went over his head a bit. By the end of the morning, he was hitting a few of them. He was feeling ready for today.
This is where it simply becomes impossible for me to describe the joy he was feeling as he stepped onto the field. The man doing the announcing asked him what number and position he wanted announced. Evan thought for a minute, "Number 29, Left Field" (Daniel Nava). He carefully tried on batting helmets and weighed different bats, choosing the one he thought was the lightest and, he said, had the best grip.
"Now batting, number 29, left field, EVAN GERBI!"
I won't give you the play-by-play. Suffice to say, on the 5th pitch, we all heard the crack of the bat and watched as the ball soared out of the batting cage and right down the middle of the field. Did it hit the Green Monster? No. Did it go past the infield? No. Did it go that far at all? Not really. We are talking about a 35-pound 4yo swinging a too-heavy bat against a 45mph hard ball. The physics of the situation are pretty obvious! Did it wow the crowd and move his mother (and Grandmother, I must say!) to tears? YES! Will it be remembered for a long, long time? The answer to that is clear.
You have to be a Fenway Fan to understand this photo, but that is my little guy up on the big screen! The one under the John Hancock sign! Look! He's famous!
Car ride on the way home...he may be a big time hitter, but he's still just 4! It was a lot of excitement for one day!