We got into FL without a lot of time to spare, and headed straight to Tampa Bay. We got there just in time for the game and quickly found our seats. Turns out, they were pretty decent for "cheap seats." Three rows up in right center field. It was a little crowded in our row, so we moved down to the wide open front row. We knew all along we were in perfect home run ball territory. Unfortunately, Tim had left his glove in the car, thinking it wasn't likely he was going to need it in our cheap seats! He hauled it all the way to FL, only to leave it in the car!
As it turns out, though, his glove probably would have cost him his moment of fame. In the 4th inning, the Twins were already down 6-0. It wasn't looking good. Carlos Pena came to the plate with two runners on. He hit a LONG fly-headed straight for Tim from time it left the bat. Tim stood up and cautiously put out his hands, after all, he didn't want to interfere with a play! The ball hit his hand with a SMACK- and bounced back down to the warning track. And in spite of Tim's conscientiousness, it was called an automatic ground rule double for fan interference.
Pandemonium broke out- amongst us, in the stadium, and the players. It wasn't long before the play was reviewed. For those of you that know anything about baseball, you know this is a new phenomenon, only a few weeks old. We've heard several times that deliberations lasted 4 minutes, 10 seconds. And the result was: Tim made MLB history!!! TRUE STORY! This was the first instant replay reversal in baseball. It was decided that Tim's thoughtfulness paid off, he never did cross over into the field of play and Carlos Pena was awarded a 3 run home run.
The story topped Sports Center news. Several of Tim's friends saw and recognized him on TV before he even had the chance to tell them. (Although several of them doubted what their eyes clearly told them was true. After all, they were convinced that if that fan sporting the Twins shirt really WAS Tim Nielson, surely he would have caught that ball!) Tim was interviewed by the St. Petersburg paper. We've seen the replay on mlb.com several times. He's famous! And he's taken a lot of heckling for not catching the ball. But if he had, he wouldn't have gotten his time in the spotlight.
So as it turns out, Tim's had a pretty good birthday weekend.
Except that the Twins lost!