Up at the plate was the left-handed-swinging Heath Nicholas, Marietta/Belpre Post 64/495's leadoff batter.
It was the bottom of the first inning in the opening game of an American Legion baseball twinbill at Legion Field Monday. On the hill for visiting Cambridge Post 84 was right-hander Tim Chumney, who was staked to a 3-0 advantage in the top of the frame.
Winding up, Chumney delivered a pitch homeward. Swinging late at it but making contact was Nicholas.
Almost in slow motion, the foul ball lifted, like a missile, towards an open Legion Field press box on the third-base side of the diamond.
If not for a thermo cup, sitting on the window ledge, the baseball would've entered the press area. Instead, it ricocheted off the cup and back onto the playing field.
The thermo cup, as it was, happened to be right in front of me, and after taking a direct hit, iced tea splashed all over my legal writing pad - and me.
I'd like to be able to say that my whole life flashed in front of me, but it didn't. It happened so fast.
If this had occurred in a "dunk 'im" at a carnival, Nicholas probably would've been awarded a prize.
Fortunately, Anthony Lima of WTAP, to my left, and photographer Mitch Casey of the Marietta Times, to my right, both were spared.
We all kind of nervously chuckled at the incident, and wondered where the baseball was.
Thing is, I can't speak for them, but I felt kind of vulnerable and in the line of fire, because foul balls really can be dangerous.
Several years ago, at Legion Field, I witnessed a lady get hit, sitting in a lawn chair, up along the third-base side of the field and in foul territory. Where she was positioned, she appeared to be safe from any batted ball.
Once, over at City Park's Bennett Stump Field in Parkersburg, a foul ball over the backstop screen actually glanced off a woman, carrying a baby. That was really scary, but everything turned out OK.
Then, at Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) in Cleveland, a late-swinging, line-drive foul ball into the box seats nailed a man, sitting with two boys. He was hurt and had to be attended to by ushers - and eventually escorted to a first aid station.
The man and the two boys never did return to the game.
At major league ballparks, foul balls very rarely reach the press box because of the distance.
But once at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, a foul ball actually flew into the press box. I can still see the sports scribe, reaching out with both hands to try to get it. It was amusing.
Back at Legion Field, the thermo cup of course suffered the only punishment. But amazingly, it only had a medium-sized dent at the base. Still, the seal was broken, my wife says, and not useable.
Makes me wonder, though...if the thermo cup hadn't been where it was, would the foul ball have hit me - or Lima?
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441, or at email@example.com