Giants of the Little League (Continued)
Let me tell you the story how
I met the kids and their fathers.
Our paths crossed on opening
day at the Oakland Athletics home opener at McAfee Stadium against the New York
I was selling peanuts and
Cracker Jacks to the folks seated near the stadium centerfield wall.
“Get your peanuts here,
C-R-A-C-K-E-R J-A-C-K-S!” I bellowed in my deep stadium voice.
I ran down the stairs to this
guy in a New York Yankees cap who had motioned an “Alexander Hamilton” in my
“What will it be Buddy,
peanuts or Cracker Jacks?” I asked him.
The guy looked back at me
from beneath a New York Yankees cap and said, “Give us three bags of peanuts
and three boxes of Cracker Jacks my good man!”
I dug deep into my box of
snacks and before I could hand them over to the guy in the Yankee cap he asked
me to do him a favor.
“Do you think you could go
back to the top of the stairs and throw the Cracker Jack boxes to the kids to
catch with their baseball gloves?”
I looked down the aisle at
these three little kids with three different baseball caps on and gloves the
size of their dad’s heads.
There was this kid named Ruth
in a Yankees cap, a kid named Ty in a Tigers cap and a kid named Jackie in a
“Sure Bub, but these babes
here look fresh out of the high chair and it could get real messy real quick!”
Then I saw “Abe Lincoln” come
out of the guys pocket and I snatched it up and high-tailed it back to the top
of the stairs, convinced that the kid’s dads would be the ones catching my
Cracker Jack curveballs.
I grabbed three boxes of
Cracker Jacks that seemed a bit heavier than normal.
The first box I aimed at
Jackie, the kid in the Dodgers cap and spotting him in the sea of green Oakland
A’s caps was easy.
“OK kid, get ready because
here it comes!” I shouted before launching the box in the kid’s general
My first throw was way too
high and I saw it start to sail over the kid’s head, but then the kid’s dad
lifted him up high in the air and to my amazement the kid caught it!
“J-A-C-K-I-E W-O-B-I-N-S-O-N” the kid giggled as he
snapped his glove around the cracker jack box and smiled a toothy grin.
By that time everyone was
watching so I tried to be more accurate with my second throw.
I spotted my second target,
the little kid Ty in the Tigers cap and I compensated for the wind by
side-arming a low slider.
The Cracker Jack box skipped
off this fat lady’s beehive hairdo and into the aisle and I saw Ty slide off his
chair and into the aisle and catch it!
Ty’s dad brought him back to
his seat as the crowd that watched went wild.
I shook my head in disbelief
and was convinced that I must be in the middle of some dream so I purposely
threw the last box of Cracker Jack extra hard and aimed five rows in front of
Ruth in the Yankees cap.
The kid was still sporting a
yellow mustache from his hotdog and I could have sworn that the kid winked at
me as I threw his box of Cracker Jack.
The box flew hard and
straight this time and headed five rows in front of Ruth but the wind caught it
and it “boom-a-ranged” and landed smack dab in the middle of Ruth’s glove.
Ruth hadn’t moved an inch or
stopped eating his hotdog for that matter, he had simply stood on top of his
chair and outstretched his glove and caught it!
With my “Abe Lincoln”
well-earned I headed back to snack central to restock my snack box and tell the
other vendors the story of these three incredible little kids.
I walked up to Louie my boss
sitting behind the snack counter and handed him my snack box to be filled up
“Hey Morris, you idiot, do
you realize you’ve been passing out Cracker Jack boxes from the 1920’s!” Louie yelled as he bit down hard on the
world’s smallest cigar.
“Yeah right! But if you really
want to hear a yarn, I’ll have to tell you the story of these three little kids
I just threw Cracker Jack boxes to from the top of the stairs,” I chuckled
“Look at the boxes moron,
they’re the old original white box with Sailor Jack and Bingo – do you realize
that someone’s going to get sick and we’ll get sued!
“You must’ve grabbed the big
boss’s box of collectible Cracker Jacks he bought from an auction the other
“That’s probably why the
weight of the boxes didn’t feel right, they were a bit heavier,” I gasped under
my breath as the little hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up at full
“Go get those Cracker Jack
boxes back before we have three very ill little boys on our hands and a lawsuit
I ran back to centerfield
with three brand new boxes of Cracker Jacks but it was already the second
inning and something huge must have just happened because everyone was standing
on their feet.
I looked up at the scoreboard
and saw that Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees had just hit a rare opening
day grand slam and the stadium scoreboard cameras panned to the crowd in
centerfield where the ball had landed.
I saw three little boys
cheering and blowing three very peculiar looking whistles and Little Ruth was
clutching the baseball and dancing.
I also saw three empty white
Cracker Jack boxes on the ground and I realized that it was too late; the boys
must have eaten the Cracker Jacks and were enjoying their secret surprises when
Alex Rodriguez launched his magical grand slam.
I slowly walked up to Ruth’s
father and asked them if everyone was feeling alright, but I didn’t mention my
“We feel great! My little boy
Ruth here caught the grand slam ball and the three boys love their Cracker
Jacks secret prizes. I haven’t
seen a whistle prize like this before – it’s made from tin like in the old
I took a quick look at the
boy’s whistles and saw they were all gold colored tins of a man with a very big
mouth – a rare collectible Cracker Jack prize.
I also scooped up the empty
Cracker Jack boxes and told them that I would clear out their trash and
congratulated them and headed back to snack central.
Here is the link to the audio version (varies slightly from text):