photograph by Ron Crowley
If only I could have been in the stands for that one, and in the seats I usually purchase, with a perfect view of that grand slam. Instead, I was here in Jersey watching on a small tv. But when Nava came up I went over to our larger screen and changed the channel from the World Cup my girlfriend was watching and said to her, “You have to see this, a historic moment for this player. his first at-bat in the majors.” It was one of those lucky moments of calling history before it happens. For me, the first plate appearance has enough meaning. Then that beautiful swing drove the grand slam into Manny Delcarmen’s leaping grab. My girlfriend thought I was showing her a replay. How could I know that would happen? Just incredible. What followed was an ecstatic electricity that seemed to shake the green monster.
The photographer Ron Crowley commented on this shot, on his Flickr photo stream, that Nava has the best swing since Freddy Lynn. It is beautifully fluid but with more of an uppercut than Lynn. At least with the grand slam. The double to left-center swing followed the ball with an even plane. I know all the game and post-game hype doesn’t match the Strasburgain sort, but when a player comes to the pros after doing the laundry for a college team, the reward is oh so much brighter. He was even let go by the Indepedent league Chico Outlaws.
As of today, there are two stories coming out of Chico. Nava and also the Knuckle-princess, Eri Yoshida. She made her appearance in late May, as the first woman to start a professional baseball game in 10 years. She says that while playing in Japan, she started throwing a knuckleball by watching Tim Wakefield. Today, I sing praises to Princess Eri, with the hope that Wakefield’s knuckleball will dance. I celebrate the unexpected, the surprises baseball provides, but also the unforgettable moments that can never be lived again and change the story forever.
photograph by Anne Chadwick Williams