In the bleachers for the final blast |

In the bleachers for the final blast

Column by Steve Yingling

As luck would have it, your parents phone from St. Louis this morning and wake you out of your deepest sleep since the kids were born.

While you’re hunting for your bathrobe and checking the dog’s toy basket for your sleepers, they go on and on about President Clinton’s indiscretions and what’s going wrong in all of your relatives’ lives.

Before they hang up, they say, “By the way, how would you like to go to the final game between the Expos and Cardinals?”

Speechless, you manage to grunt out an “Are you kidding?” before they recount a few more depressing stories about relatives.

They go on to say that the tickets are in the nose-bleed section – the left-field bleachers. They tell you that they can see the game better in their cozy living room.

Before they reconsider, you blurt out, “I’ll be there first thing Wednesday morning. And oh, by the way, can you lock those tickets in a safety deposit box until I get there.”

After hanging up, you call the wife at work and tell her that you must go on a business trip to St. Louis, and there’s no way out of it. You tell her to kiss the kids for you and you’ll be back first thing Monday morning.

While gathering your luggage, you dig out two old mitts in the garage and begin a desperate search for a pair of binoculars. Luckily, your trusty $300 lenses are located in the kids’ toy box.

You’re thankful that your parents don’t live in Chicago and the final series isn’t at Wrigley Field. Besides, you don’t own a gun to protect your booty should you somehow snag McGwire’s last blast.

By mere minutes, you make the last flight for St. Louis that week. And as luck would have it, you arrive in St. Louis early enough to spend a not-so quiet four days with your parents.

Amped for Sunday’s season-finale, you can’t sleep. Who would? Knowing that you’re one of 44,000 spectators at Busch Stadium with the opportunity to catch Mark McGwire’s final home run during a record season.

You daydream about what you’ll do with the historic ball when it drops into your mitt. You won’t be like all these other buffoons who returned the balls to McGwire and Sammy Sosa when they tied and eclipsed Roger Maris’ record of 61.

What were they thinking? Didn’t they remember the summer of 1994 when the players were so selfish the World Series was canceled. You’ve also been to games where the players declined to sign autographs for your kids. Their eyes had dollar signs in them as they walked right by them without even saying, “Hey, kid, how is your Little League team doing?”

Baseball memorabilia collectors estimated that the ball McGwire hit to break Maris’ record was worth at least $1,000,000. There’s no way, you’ll give up that ball for a few measly McGwire autographed bats and balls. You’ll sell it to the highest bidder.

During your taxi ride to Busch Stadium on Sunday morning, your glad that the Expos are 25 games out of first place. They’re playing for nothing but pride, meaning some bleacher ticket holders may have conveniently lost their entry passes. You’re also glad that McGwire has gone homerless in his last 12 at-bats. He’s overdue.

But as you squeeze through the isles in the left-field bleachers, searching for your priceless seat, your heart sinks because a couple resembling the Clintons are occupying your seats. But they turn out to be fakes and security guards remove them just as the first pitch is thrown.

Suddenly, a deafening roar sends the guy next to you bolting to his feet, spilling a 32-ounce beer into your lap. You ask him, “What’s going on?” He relays the bad news, “It looks like McGwire is pulling a Cal Ripken. I guess he’s satisfied with 68 homers and is taking the day off.”

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