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  • The Nationals’ impossible run in first place, which lasted a full two months, was the last thing anybody had come to expect from that team in its first year in town. Most fans were simply thrilled to have a home team they could go out and root for. The old time fans who had grown up rooting for the Senators were used to losing teams. The Senators hadn’t finished in first place since 1933.

    That first place run got the stands literally jumping – in old RFK stadium, the stands on the 3rd base side were installed in such a way that, when enough fans jumped up and down, the entire stands would begin to rise and fall, like waves, which really gave an interesting visual if you were over on the other side looking over, where my regular seats were. If you were on the 3rd base side, you could feel it, almost like a controlled earthquake. It was seriously cool.
  • They did eventually come back down to earth. At the halfway point of the season, on July 3rd, they had 19 more wins than they had losses, sporting a 50-31 record, a pace that would have given them a 100 wins on the year if they could have kept it up. Even if they could have managed to just play .500 ball the rest of the way, splitting their remaining games, they would have ended the year with 91 wins and a good shot at getting into the playoffs.

    But, that team had been playing way above its head, and eventually, it came back down hard, finishing the season with a mediocre 81-81 record, meaning they lost 19 more games than they won during the second half of the season. The law of averages was bound to catch up with them, and it did.

    One of the things I had vowed to do that first year the Nationals were in town, was to catch a foul ball at a game. I had been going to major league baseball games for 42 years by then, and had never caught a foul ball, in all those years. I figured I’d be going to enough games that season, my chances should be good.
  • But, as the last game I was planning to attend that year came to a close, I still hadn’t gotten my foul ball. They were playing at home the following weekend, but I’d been planning to go out of town, so had sold my tickets for those games. My plans fell through, and my friend Hugh said his wife, Lisette, couldn’t make the final game, and offered me her ticket. I was there!

    As the game, and the season, drew to a close, the bottom of the 8th inning, it was looking like I was going to have gone another season without a foul ball – season number 43, and I was at game number 41 of that year, for me. Then, with two outs, the batter hit a high chopper of a foul ball right towards the dugout, right behind which I was sitting, with Hugh and our friend, Elliott, another old Jewish guy, who happened to be a lawyer who did some work for major league baseball, occasionally. One of the Nationals pitchers, Tony Armas, was on the top step of the dugout – he snagged the ball with his bare hand, and tossed it right to me.

    I immediately looked around for a kid to give it to, because that was the code – if you got a ball, you looked for a kid to give it to – but Hugh said, “They’ve all already gotten balls, Pete. That one is yours. You finally got one!” I’d finally gotten a foul ball at a baseball game, and I got it that season, just as I had vowed to at the beginning of the year.

    Of course, after that one, the flood gates opened up. Over the next two seasons, I became a foul ball magnet, snagging 6 more balls, some in spectacular fashion, before I was done! I caught a total of 7 balls from 2005 to 2007, after being shut out from 1962 – 2005. I guess you could say I was due!
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