A Giant Outing


It was a scouting trip to see the Giants play at Candlestick Park. School had jus’ let out and we we’re going to get to see Willie Mays in action.

Seven of us kids piled into Captain Kelly’s station wagon for the nearly 400 mile trip to the Bay Area. I sat in the very back of the car, in the seat that faced backwards.

After traveling all day since before dawn, we pulled in to the main gate at Hamilton Air Force Base. We spent the night in one of the many old open barracks for the night.

The following day, we pack ourselves up in the station wagon and the “short trip” into the city and the ball park. It took us nearly an hour to find the entrance to the parking lot, to get parked, enter the stadium and locate our seats.

For me, much of my time was spent wandering around the ‘Stick, watching all the people and sometimes watching the baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies. I also gorged myself on hot dogs and soda pop.

Finally, when my feet got tired, I returned to my seat and started watching the game. I have no idea what inning it was – but Willie Mays was at the bat – and thought he never got to first base, he did hit plenty of foul balls.

Like I said, I wasn’t paying much attention and while I heard the bat hit the ball, I had no idea where it went. Within a second or two though, I realize the foul-tip was coming right at the section we were sitting in.

It was like a slow-motion dream, everyone around me jumping up, reaching for the baseball. But somehow though and very much to my surprise, the ball ended up landing in my hands.

I was the envy of everyone around at that moment.

After the game, as we were heading for the parking lot, I stopped and bought a replica baseball bat as a souvenir. Once at the car,  Captain Kelly promptly took it away from me, fearing I’d use it on one of my fellow scouts.

I got it back after we returned home.

As for the baseball foul-tipped by Willie Mays – I think Adam and I used it in a neighborhood game.  Eventually, it was lost or forgotten, never to be seen again.

The replica bat, though, I managed to keep ever since. And incidentally – the Giants beat the Phillies, three-to-one that day.

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