Life as a Balldude can be challenging 

Welcome to my version of an AT&T Park Fantasy Camp, which on Monday night had me singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and on Wednesday afternoon had me serving as a Balldude down the right field line. Such are the delightful adventures that come with working at KNBR, the Giants’ flagship radio station.

We’ll get to the singing in just a moment because the idea of being on the field of play during a Major League Baseball game brings with it all kinds of nightmares. Potential injuries (to a player or myself), interfering with a ball in play, etc.

The Giants were playing the Milwaukee Brewers, an undistinguished lot who are a massive bunch up close.

Prince Fielder and Carlos Lee look as if they’d hold their own against any bouncer in the country. Shucks, the bullpen catcher looked as if he could play for the 49ers.

While I had my exit strategies if any baseball or pursuent players came my way, I was unprepared for the real pressure that goes with Ballduding. What to do with a foul ball?

Seems simple enough, having watched Balldudes on television.

Get the ball, hand it to the nearest child. Oh, if it only were so easy.

Moments after assuming my position, I had this father who claimed to be from South Carolina laying out a story about how his son had gotten a baseball the day before, but had had chosen to give it to another child who’d been reduced to tears after being run over by an adult in pursuit of a subsequent foul ball.

With his hands on his son’s shoulders, and all the sincerity he could muster, he asked if I would be so kind as to give his Good Samaritan of a child a baseballb if one came my way? To be truthful, I didn’t think his kid believed the story any more than I did.

But, hey, admiring creativity, I said I’d do my best.

Didn’t seem like I had a problem.

Until the bottom of the second inning, when I was summoned over by a pair of young baseball fans age 10 or so. They told me the kid next to them had never gotten a baseball even though he’d been coming to games for years. Could I give him a ball if it came my way?

Now what am I to do? Somebody’s going to be disappointed if I don’t hand over a baseball.

So, there I sat, struggling with my dilemma, not to mention being offered $20 for a ball, then $50 when I said I planned on giving it to a kid.

Fortunately, for my nine innings of anguish, a foul ball never came my way.

While I spent far too much energy worrying about everything bad that could happen to a Balldude, I left myself completely unprepared to sing, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

First off, I didn’t think anything of it. Without an ounce of singing talent, what did I have to lose? With a lifetime of baseball and a stadium organ behind me, I was sure I could get through it.

When I was told a few moments before I was to begin that there was no stadium organ, and that I should ignore the half-second delay. I was going to sing accapella? Suddenly, this sounded like a recipe for disaster.

The fact that my 3-year-old was running lose around my feet didn’t figure to help things. The Giants didn’t help either, giving up four runs in the sixth and five more in the seventh. By the time I was to sing, it was 10-1 in favor of the Brewers.

So there I was, off-key but enthusiastic, singing into a sea of faces who weren’t in the best of moods in the first place. By the second verse, I was reduced to just getting through it, much like my experience as a Balldude.

So, if you were in the upper deck Monday night, and were one of the ones who chose to boo during my rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," I completely understand. I may have done the same.

Tim Liotta hosts the weekend edition of "Sportsphone 680" on KNBR (680 AM).

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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