More Junes

You know you’ve had a good month when it begins with U2 and ends with the Yankees. I’m praying for more Junes. Seriously I wrote down in my prayer journal “more Junes.” I need more Junes in my life rhythm.

Of course, I can’t regularly have a month where I see U2 and the Yankees. That is uncommon to be sure. It’s also expensive. The month of June was an expensive month for the Willitts household. We blew up the budget this month. But I don’t regret it one bit!

A friend recently told me in response to my musing about the wisdom of spending money on a Yankees game with Zion, he said, “I think one of the reasons God gives us money is to deepen relationships through the sharing of experience.” I appreciated that wisdom because the Yankees game Zion and I went to will be one of our best father-son memories. And it almost never happened.

Zion and I noticed that the Yankees were in town playing the White Sox in a four-game series at the beginning of the coming week. I had known that they were coming to town and had written off the possibility of going because we had already spent money on seeing U2 at the beginning of the month. But as the week began Zion expressed a strong interest in going. Well it doesn’t take much to get me to be open to a going to a Yankees game. There were hurdles though in addition to the money.

But on the Tuesday morning the urge to see if we could go was just too strong. Zion had wresting camp at the high school and I was at a Starbucks with Mary waiting to pick him up. I wrote a text to Karla asking if she would be interested in going if we found cheap tickets. Not really enjoying baseball enough travel down to the Southside, she perceptively said I could go with the kids if I wanted. Actually she said she thought it would be a good idea.  

My initial impulse was that it would be fun to have a family experience and I wanted all four of us to go. But as these things usually unfold the arrangements take their own shape. So I had the green light from Karla. Mary first wanted to go, but then decided she would just as soon enjoy time with mom. So it was now just Zion and I. I was waffling still given the money, but the allure of a professional baseball game, the ballpark, the Yankees, and a father-son experience, was just too much for my romantic heart to pass up.

And I am so glad I didn’t!

We picked Zion up and I let Mary tell him the news. She wanted to be the one because she loves watching people be happy. In fact – she is so funny – she’ll watch YouTube videos of soldiers coming home from deployment and meeting their families for the first. She just loves watching the joy of others. I love that about her!

Mary told Zion and he screamed like a girl! He was so excited. So was dad, though I only screamed inside.

I waited to buy the tickets on StubHub. I think in part I was trying to weigh the costs. Should I buy $15 tickets in the highest section of the field or should I pay more and get seats closer. I knew what I wanted to do, but I had to go through the process of rationalizing spending more money.

We left for the city early so we could beat traffic. And I continued to look at the seats available and mind wrestle about spending the money. One consideration was Aaron Judge, the Yankees 6’7’’ slugging right-field rookie phenom who, by the way, just broke Joe D’s rookie homerun record by hitting 30 home runs in a rookie season within a certain number of days. It took DiMaggio 138 games to hit 29 in 1936 and only took 78 for Judge to hit 30.

I thought, “It would be great to sit near Judge and be able to watch him play.” I found seats that were reasonably priced, but much more than $15, right on the right-field foul line. I decided to buy them. “After all,” I thought, “We rarely go. Let’s make this memorable.”

It would turn out to be.

We arrived at the field before the gates opened and were fairly close in line at the gate. When the gates opened we got right in and went down to the seats. They were close and they were great seats. I was glad I got them. And we were right next to Aaron Judge exactly where I had hoped. He was standing in right field shagging balls with rookie pitcher Montgomery as the Yankees were taking batting practice.

Zion, Yankees cap on and glove in hand, walked down the line to stand parallel with Judge who was probably 30 yards from the stands out in right field. Zion was about 20 yards down the foul line from me and our seats. 

I could not believe what I saw unfold. Judge walks over to toward the foul line, turns toward the stands, points to Zion and motions to him with a ball. Zion was not able to process what Judge was suggesting until someone next to Zion said to him, “Hey Judge wants to play catch with you!”

And that is exactly what happened. For about couple of minutes Aaron Judge and Zion Willitts played catch together.

After a number of back and forth exchanges, Judge lifted his figure and said to Zion, “One more.” And with that he threw the ball one last time and ran in to take batting practice, leaving Zion with the ball to remember the experience. 

I could not believe it just happened. Aaron Judge played catch with my son. I was totally amazed and so excited for Z.

"What fun! What a memory! I can't believe that just happened!" 

I was so happy that I had decided to come to the game on an impulse and that I had purchased the tickets on the foul line. That is a memory we will never forget.

Its a gift that keeps giving. Every time we see Aaron Judge on TV now, either Zion or I will say, “And Zion played catch with him.”

I love that Zion and I share a passion for baseball. The month of June has consisted in hours of playing catch together.

That’s one of the reasons I want more Junes.

June has been a sweet season with my son.