What a memory. What a way to be a part of baseball as a fan. After Monday’s possible hit and wondering what would come of 2,000, I caught the moment on camera for posterity Tuesday night.
Wow, if I thought I was nervous Monday trying to capture the moment, I was even more honed in Tuesday. This is a feat less than three hundred players have ever gotten to in Major League Baseball and I knew what it meant to me.
Sitting before the game I couldn’t help but think there was someone missing tonight. Every year for probably the last seven or so, I took my father to a Rockies game for his birthday on May 19. Travelling to Atlanta was asking too much of him, as he didn’t physically feel up for the trip, but I knew I had to be part of history and I knew I had to bring part of it home for him.
I had a brand new ball, never touched by a players hand, laying in wait in my bag. I knew there was one autograph I wanted tonight, above all others, and I knew why. I wanted Helton to sign for me and I wanted him to sign on the night of his 2,000th hit and it just happened to be on my father’s birthday.
I saw Helton sign one other autograph. I like to think it was more than luck when Todd asked for my ball and put his stamp on it. In that second I had just come upon the best birthday gift I could think of.
People say I write with emotion and most of the time I don’t recognize it. When I say I couldn’t have felt more like I was 8-years-old and loved baseball more than ever, that’s pure emotion. Kids often (boys especially) try to get their dad the perfect gift, that as men he would love. When Todd threw the ball back to me, I probably looked like a giddy kid who knew what he had in his hands. I had a ball signed on a monumental night for a historical player by a historical player and it was gonna make the best gift ever.
In the first at-bat Helton would not get his 2,000th, but in the third it came. I nervously clicked and watched the ball blow past my eyes and into the outfield. I knew I had just seen history, but had I captured it? The night before I had taken an alright photo but nothing I would be extremely proud of. Not this one. Nope this one was almost perfect.
I want to post it right here right now, but I’m going to hold back because I want Todd to be the first person to see it. I know that may sound hokey, but I want him to know how much it meant as a fan of the game to be a part of that moment. Until the day I die, I will be able to tell the story of number 2,000.
I will however describe the photo and post the second after. Basically the next photo.
The magic of the camera captured Helton in mid-swing seconds after contacting the ball. The ball is about three feet coming off the bat and Helton looks intent but calm in the swing. With eyes like a tiger capturing his prey, you can see the experience and knowledge in every ounce of his presence. Crack, the ball has just been hit and the next second looked like this.
Todd Helton “The moment of knowing” by Tom Walsh
This too is a nice photo, but I know it is the moment a milli-second after. The ball is already beginning to travel into the outfield and the people, including Todd, know this one’s a hit.
Todd Helton “The look” by Tom Walsh
I can’t begin to describe how rapid my heart beat was as I was looking at the photos to see what I had captured. Did I get it? Was it bad? Did I totally blow it? Again like a wave of emotion, I had it. I had gotten the actual moment a split second after the ball came off the bat.
I would be linked with this moment for the rest of my life. Here was a player who had played the game the right way. Working hard from the minors up, he became an icon of the Colorado Rockies and all things right with the game.
I felt truly blessed and thankful to be part of this opportunity.
Coming up I’ll look at the Braves food and fans.