Back in the day – in 1985 to be more precise – I was completing a decade in these United States without ever having witnessed a ballgame in the flesh, as it were.
I had learned by then that, apart from being an American metaphor for ‘approximate’ in such guesswork phrases as a ‘ballpark figure,’ it was the national pastime played by men and their kids right next to our family home: Whether we happened to be in Rochester NY, Miami FL, or Englewood NJ, “the boys of summer” would be much in evidence around us pursuing their weekend sport of choice.
Back in India, for me and my ilk the equivalent sport would invariably be cricket, which only recently is making its way, albeit peripherally, into the sports-loving public’s conscience in places like New York and New Jersey that have substantial Indian immigrant populations.
Then, out of the blue, we received an invitation from our dear friends in Rochester to hurry over to that fair city for a long weekend.
We arrived well before it started, so I had the pleasure of a chance meeting with my former Rector of St. Paul’s Church in Englewood, Jack McKelvey, who had recently been elevated to the Bishopric of the Rochester Episcopalian diocese. He and his wife Linda were sitting lower down in the stands, but Jack bounded up the stairs to meet me halfway. We exchanged pleasant memories of the past and brought ourselves up-to-date with our respective family’s ‘doings’ – he sure made my day!
Or so I thought: It wasn’t very much later, when my family had settled into their seats – our three daughters in the row in front of and below those occupied by our hosts and us – that the first ball was thrown. All of a sudden, our eldest daughter, Ayesha, bobbed her head down and there was a distinct thwack when some projectile hit me, sitting just behind her on the left of my chest. I passed out wordlessly and crumpled up with my wife alongside shrieking for help.
It wasn’t long, I was told afterwards, that an emergency crew with a stretcher plucked me from my seat, rushed me out of the stadium, bundled me into a waiting ambulance and with sirens whining and warning lights flashing took me to the Strong Memorial Hospital. I was ensconced in the ICU and thankfully the good doctors who treated me for a quasi-traumatic but not lasting injury released me a couple of hours later to return to the tender care of my wife and hosts. To this day there is what is now a faded bruise mark that sometimes brings to my mind that I was lucky to have not been more severely hurt by that errant baseball.
Just a short while back my Rochester friends sent me an August 12, 2015 cutting from the local Democrat and Chronicle that had the heading “For fans, risk at the ballpark.” It set off a chain reaction in my mind and reinforced my decision never to tempt fate again by attending a baseball game. The statistic that popped out of that article was cited by a physics professor at the University of Rochester, Steven Manly: For a fan sitting 120 feet from the plate and at about the same plane, a line drive coming off the bat at 95 mph will reach the seat in 9/10ths of a second.
“You have a second, at best, to react, ” said Professor Manly.
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Copyright © 2015 Azim Lewis Mayadas