A few Sundays ago I took three 12-year-old boys — Hayden, Joey and Sasha — to Citi Field to watch the men of September. I sat alone because I let the boys wander. They hardly watched the game. They looked at the T-shirts in the shops. They went to the batting cage. They laughed at the people who fell into the dunk tank. They stood in line at Shake Shack and ate burgers.
I caught a few rays, and I people-watched. My brain went to mush.
One thing about baseball, I thought, is that I will never be asked to perform. The Mets will never be missing a player and call over the PA system, “Will Mary Beth Coudal please come onto the field to suit up? We're missing a player.”
It won't happen. As if it could possibly, not likely, but possibly happen at a Broadway show, a national political rally, or a mega-church Sunday morning service. The times I've been in attendance at those events, I do sit and relax and enjoy the show. But there's always a part of me that wonders, “Oh, maybe I should get up there and help them out. This team needs me.”
In so much of life, I cannot relax. A part of me is assessing whether or not my contribution's needed. Another part of me is worried that my kids are annoying someone. But not at sporting events. Am I needed? Not at all. Are my kids annoying? Hardly!
The Mets won. Not that it mattered. They were not going to be this year's champions.
We were on the ramp on the way out of the stadium. Joey swung his navy Yankees sweatshirt over his shoulders. (I don't why Joey wore Yankees garb to a Mets game. Twelve-year-olds are like that.)
We almost made it to the subway when Joey realized he was missing his wallet. It must've fallen out when he swung his sweatshirt over his shoulders. So we went back to our exit.
“Yes,” said the older gent in the green polo Staff shirt. “Someone found a wallet. It's probably on its way to the Lost and Found now. Go to the office. In the Jackie Robinson Pavilion. Sit there and wait.”
Outside the office, under the huge black-and-white photo murals of Jackie Robinson, we talked about the courage of the man who broke the race barrier. Joey informed me that every team has retired Robinson's number, 42, to honor him. I didn't know that. (I learn a lot from 12-year-olds at games.)
We asked the pimply kid in the green polo shirt at the Lost and Found office about Joey's lost wallet, but the kid said none had been turned in.
But the gent had told us to wait.
“So, we're just going to wait,” I said. The kid behind the counter left. The four of us sat in the air-conditioned room on two cushy black chairs. We waited.
Joey said, “I had money, a MetroCard and my library card in that wallet. They'll probably just leave me my library card.”
“How much money was in it?” Hayden asked.
A few minutes later the kid came out of the office door. He had Joey's wallet in his hand. Joey took it and opened it. Yup, MetroCard, fifteen dollars and even the New York City public library card were still in there.
You gotta love it. Maybe the Mets are not in contention for the World Series. But basic human kindness always wins. Taking a few 12-year-olds to a ball game on a waning day of summer teaches you that. ♦
Photograph by Phil Bencomo.