So you say that in your occupation at a major automobile manufacturer, you have been offered four seats at an upcoming ballgame. And these are not just any seats, but front row seats in right field foul territory. You have been to a few games over the years, but never this close to the action. Your son is begging for you to take him along, and you want to be prepared. I will be glad to give you some advice.
Before you leave home, do not forget your glove. You may need it later. Next, get to the game when the gates open. If you are far enough down the line, your son may be able to get a batting practice ball. If you are not able to snag one on your own, he can occasionally ask politely for a player to toss him a ball. If a player tosses a practice ball toward someone else's child, do not reach out and snag it from his hand as a Royals fan did to my son earlier this year. Do not be that lady.
As the game begins, take a look at the fans around you. If your son now has a ball, you need to be prepared to deliver a ball to another youngster. If there is a ball boy stationed nearby, you can point out worthy recipients.
As the game progresses, realize that it may have been a few hours since the players have had a bite to eat. If you are thinking about partaking in the concessions but concerned about the expense, it is time to splurge and go whole hog. In the event that a player chases a foul ball and comes to rest in front of you, offer him a quick snack. Don Mattingly once took some popcorn from a fan, and the experience was awkward. Prince Fielder's recent nacho snack was well received, but he should not have had to wonder about whether dipping the chip was acceptable. Offer all of your bounty.
Be prepared for other players' needs. You are there to create a high energy environment by cheering, but other functional concerns arise. Prince Fielder needed sunglasses mid-inning a couple years ago, and a trip to the clubhouse would have really slowed down the game. Offer him your shades, as the fan did in that instance. The fans will thank you, and you may have a new piece of memorabilia.
As many distractions as there are at the stadium, you need to stay focused on the game. Be prepared as if you were playing defense in a game. Know the batter, the speed of the runners, and the number of outs. If Miguel Cabrera is batting with nobody on base and hits it down the line, reach out and field the ball. It will be ruled a dead ball and a double, and Cabrera may have stopped at first base otherwise. If the opposing team is batting with a fast runner on first base and a ground ball is hit your way, again touch it. The dead ball will likely keep the runner from scoring. But if the Tigers have a pinch runner on first, DO NOT touch the ball. It will be tempting as the ball comes your way, as you would like to be a hero and get your son a souvenir. But you could prevent the man on first from scoring, and affect the outcome of the game. If you are comfortable with it, be prepared to stop other fans from doing so as well.
Be careful not to take this too far. Do not have a net or another fielding aid beyond a standard mitt. Do not fall onto the field in your pursuit to help your team win the game. If your momentum carries you onto the field in the early innings of a mid-summer game, it makes for a fun highlight. But fall games are under a microscope, and the game is about the players not you.
In the event that you snag a foul ground ball, give it to that youngster that you identified earlier. You will give him a life-long memory. And if there is a scrum for a ball under the seats and you come away with it, DO NOT be that guy that appears to take it from the kid. Graciously hand it to her.
Now you are prepared for the most difficult game situation. I realize that you are considering giving away the tickets due to the complexity of your position, but hang in there. You can do this. If there is a popup in your area with your team on defense, your role is to help the defender. If you do this well, Andy Dirks may give you a "high five". Say the right fielder is running full tilt toward you. Take your eye off the ball. Do not try to catch it. Do not be Steve Bartman and need police protection. Yes, I know this is hard and goes against years of baseball practice. Instead, watch the fielder. Clear out of the first few feet of the stands. Let the player know that he has room. Block any fans' arms that are reaching for the ball. Be prepared to catch the player, not the ball. Protect him from landing on the seats. And try not to spill your drink on him, though if you have performed well to this point it will be overlooked.
If on the other hand the opposing team's player is chasing that foul fly ball, you are under no compulsion to help. Stand against the railing, without crossing it, and with your back to the field. Enlist your neighbors to do the same. The player has no right to the ball if it is in the stands. You will also be protecting his health, as if he dives into the stands he could injure himself as Derek Jeter did in 2004.
You are now prepared to attend the game. And you thought that you were going for entertainment.