It seemed like a neat idea to take Dan Curatola to an IronPigs game.
Dan is a World War II veteran. Army, 1st Infantry Division, hit Omaha Beach on D-Day in the first wave. I had interviewed him for a two-part story that ran in The Morning Call in 2009.
He’s also a big sports fan. When he was a boy, he went to Yankees games, saw DiMaggio play, kept scorecards of every game.
Sixth inning at Coca-Cola Park, a batter hit a line drive foul. We were in the upper right field bleachers.
It was a scorcher headed our way. An instant later: It’s really headed our way. Then: It’s homing in on us!
I felt a bolt of dread.
This old man beside me had survived the fighting in North Africa and on Sicily and on bloody Omaha, but he was not going to survive a minor league baseball game in Allentown. The ball was coming straight for his head and would hit him and kill him.
I stood up and put my hands out, hoping to at least deflect it.
Dan did not get clobbered.
The ball crashed into an empty seat directly in front of us.
“What was that?” Dan said.
He had heard it hit but hadn’t seen it coming, because his eyesight was bad in the twilight.
— From a speech I gave last week in Allentown at a social event given by the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Veterans’ Mentor Program, which pairs veterans who are defendants in the criminal justice system with veterans in the community who serve as volunteer mentors.