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Marc Mason is a freelance writer based in Tempe, AZ.

Friday, May 21, 2004  

It took 30 years.

My grandfather started taking me to major league and minor league baseball games when I was around four years old. From the earliest possible age, I fell in love with the game. The history of it, the greatness of its players from generation to generation, the purity of the sport. Baseball was my very first love affair.

I played. In fact, I played really well. In the ten or eleven seasons that I put on a uniform and went out on the diamond, I played in hundreds of games. And I never saw it happen.

When you love the game, there’s always ways to express that love. I subscribed to Baseball Digest for years. I collected baseball cards as an almost secondary religion. And of course, you cannot resist the lure of the crack of the bat, even when it doesn’t involve your team.

So over the years, I have been to hundreds of major and minor league games. Hundreds. That doesn’t include all the high school, Base Ruth League, or Little League games I’ve been to. And I‘d never seen it happen. Each and every season, I have also found ways to watch probably a hundred games or better on the television as well. Thousands of faceless games flashing across the screen. Occasionally, I’d see something truly great, but there continued to be one small gap in what I wanted to finally experience.

Sure, I’ve been watching one game and had the network do cut-ins to let the audience follow what was happening. I’ve seen the end, the jumping, the joy. But never start to finish, pitch one to pitch last. More often, I have seen pitch one to pitch break-up, like Reggie Jackson snatching one away from Nolan Ryan after eight and two-thirds back in 1979. Ben Davis chicken-shit bunting to take one away from Curt Schilling in 2002, violating one of the oldest “off the books” codes in the history of the game. Each tantalizing time, I’d wonder if I would ever get lucky enough to see it happen.

Tuesday, I came home from work feeling more than a bit lost and stranded. Many crises had beset me, and would continue to through the week. But I remembered to turn on the TV and watch the Diamondbacks game. Randy Johnson was scheduled to pitch, and he was in a dark place after his previous start, having lost a 1-0 classic. I was wondering how he’d react to the media firestorm he started when he criticized the team.

27 up, 27 down. That’s how.

Finally, after decades, I got to see a no-hitter from start to finish. Even better, I saw a perfect game, only the 15th of the modern era. It was as thrilling as I could have asked for, and even more gut-wrenching to watch late in the game as he got closer and closer to history. But Johnson did it, and it was amazing. I shed a tear of joy that I was fortunate enough to have been able to see it. I only wish my grandfather could have, as well.


1:02 PM

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