By Jacob Vance aka GoldenCards

I remember it like it was yesterday. Seven years old, cut-sleeve muscle shirt, Old-Navy blue jeans, and some rocking white Nikes on my feet.

Waiting in line in Summer Texas heat was all worth the wait because “I couldn’t wait to get an autograph from every guy on the team!.”

My dad chuckled.

As my Dad and I slowly inched to Minute Maid Parks entry doors, my heart began beating faster and faster, “Dad, we’re almost there!.”

My Dad chuckled again.

As I gave the lady my ticket to get scanned, and walked through what I called the “clicky-spinny thing”, I finally witnessed what all my friends had been raving about.

The smell of the fresh popcorn, the sound of the ball cracking off the opposing teams bats during pre-game batting practice.

I was astonished. I was officially in heaven.

My Dad and I took a stroll around the first level, looking at several different sites and attractions.

As soon as we got to the Jeff Bagwell commemorative home run wall, I said “Dad, do you think I have a chance to be in the big leagues?.”

My Dad smiled and said, “only if you practice every single day.”

Then my Dad suddenly asked if I wanted to go into the right field seats and try to catch a home run ball.

I didn’t even reply as I was already on my way to right field.

The second we got in position, I look up and see the one and only, Barry Bonds walking to home plate.

Instantly my Dad told me to go up to the wall railing while he stayed back to give us a better chance at getting a ball.

As I was heading down, “CRACK”.

The first ball he hit went far into the second deck.

Next pitch, “CRACK”. Way over my head.

The third pitch changed my life. Bonds hit a ground ball into right field, gobbled up by Jeff Kent who was shagging.

He quickly heard the screams of everybody who wanted that ball. I stayed quiet knowing my high-pitched voice would not be heard.

He slowly began walking to the rail, obviously looking for the right person to give it to.

A second later, we made eye contact and he instantly made his way towards me.

He arrived, and asked me, “What’s your name son?”

“Jacob” I replied.

“Jacob huh?” “I like that name.”

He then pulled out a blue sharpie and autographed the ball.

After that, he wrote on it, “To Jacob, my new pal.”

My tongue was in a knot.

He shook my hand and said “It was very nice to meet you Jacob, see you around!”

All I could get out was, “Thank you sir.”

I quickly ran to my Dad, showing him my new treasure, and telling him all about my new favorite player.

Then my dad said sarcastically, “You’re not supposed to like anyone from the Giants!”

About ten minutes later, the PA announcer told everybody to go to their seats.

Our seats were great, on the first row behind the Astros dugout.

I watched the whole game in awe, eating my pizza, sipping on coca cola, and yelling “go Jeff!” when he would walk to the plate.

The Astros ended up clobbering the Giants on the night that beat all nights.

The whole way home all I talked about was the Astros, how badly I wanted to go back, and Jeff Kent of course.

Right when we got home I ran to my mom to tell her about my night.

Ending the conversation, I asked if we could have Jeff Kent over for dinner.

My mom said, “if you can get him to say yes we will gladly have him over” she said with a smile.

As I was getting ready for bed, I took a minute to stare at my first ever autograph.

Suddenly, as my parents came in to say goodnight, I said “Thank you so much for taking me tonight, I had so much fun.”

My parents looked at each other.

My Dad smiled and said, well, do you want to have fun tomorrow night?

I quickly asked what he meant.

He replied, “I got us two tickets behind the net!”

That night, I got two new things for the first time.

My first autograph, and my first heart attack.

I guess you could say I had a pretty good first ballgame.