I am all about tradition, especially in sports. I think there is often a fine line between superstition and tradition, but it doesn't matter to me. Teams do some of the same things again and again, and fans participate in some of those rituals.
At many college football games, fans (and players) hold up four fingers at the beginning of the fourth quarter. In gymnastics we hold up four fingers at the beginning of the fourth rotation (in dual meets). Why (and when?) we hold up four fingers in college basketball, which has two halves instead of four quarters.....well, I don't know.
UGA football teams have worn red jerseys and silver britches (they aren't pants, either, they're britches) for a long time. Never mind that they aren't really silver but gray (shhhhhh.......). They recently unveiled a special Nike uniform they will wear for the first game this year, and while I'm not sold on the red-on-red look, I absolutely LOVE the red and silver helmets. It doesn't matter much anyway, since the uniforms are only for one game. (Is it just me, or does that sound a tiny bit expensive?)
And none of this has much to do with what prompted this post.
I was folding clothes and watching the Braves vs. Cubs baseball game when Freddie Freeman, the Braves' rookie first baseman, came to bat. I didn't realize at the time that it was his first ever at-bat at Wrigley Field, which is fraught with tradition all by itself. Freddie jacked the first pitch over the ivy-covered wall for a home run. True to the Wrigley Field tradition, the fan who caught the home run ball threw it back onto the field.
Baseball players don't usually get to keep souvenir home run balls because the fans keep them. (Except for that extraordinary man who caught Derek Jeter's 3000th hit, a home run, and now is in deep do-do with the IRS for all the "thank you" gifts with which the Yankees rewarded him.)
By throwing the ball back onto the field, though, the fan enabled Freddie to have a memento that will likely mean a lot to him throughout what I hope will be a long career with the Braves. (I'm certain one of the Chicago outfielders retrieved the ball for him. If they didn't, I don't want to know about it.)
I've always wondered if I were lucky enough to A) go to a baseball game at Wrigley Field; B) sit behind that beautiful ivy-covered wall; C) catch a home run ball; and D) live to tell about it, would I be able to throw a home run ball back onto the field? (I mean, assuming I were there to cheer for the Cubs, which I probably wouldn't be, especially if they were playing the Braves.) Heck, I caught a FOUL ball hit by Andres Galarraga in Atlanta, and I carried that bad boy around for DAYS, showing it to anyone who would stand still long enough for me to tell the story.
Okay, I didn't really CATCH it. Hubby jumped up for it, his co-worker jumped for it, twenty people around us jumped up for it, and I was positively frozen in my seat. I still don't know how it wound up in my lap. But by golly it's mine. If it had been an actual home run ball, I don't think I could have brought myself to throw it back on the field. It wouldn't matter WHO hit it.
One more cool thing about this game and I promise I'll shut up. One of the Cubs hit a pop fly to the third base line, and Chipper Jones was going for it in foul territory. He had to lean way into the seats to catch the ball for the third out, and when he did, he simply turned his glove over and allowed a woman in the front row to pluck it out of his glove for a keepsake. I thought she was going to cry. Then I thought I was going to cry.
I sure hope Chipper didn't strain his wrist turning his glove over like that. I'm just sayin'.......