Standish man catches Varitek

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When David and Gina Maloney of Standish chose to go to Boston to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary, they were expecting to have a good time. After all, they held tickets for two Red Sox games at Fenway Park against the Oakland A’s.

But what they didn’t expect was to become minor celebrities in a major league ballpark.

Both of the Maloneys are avid Red Sox fans. In fact, Gina attended historic Game Four of the 2004 American League Championship Series, witnessing David Ortiz’ walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th inning that started the Red Sox’s triumphant push to a World Series victory.

And, although David hadn’t attended a game in over 15 years, he planned like a pro for every detail of this trip, from packing his glove to catch any balls hit his way, to arranging for the Jumbotron at Fenway to flash Happy Anniversary along with the couple’s names.

But he couldn’t have planned anything that would have pleased them more than the events of May 11’s game.

The Maloney’s had already attended the May 10 game, where they enjoyed watching Kevin Millar hit his walk-off home run. But, on that next night, May 11, they were sitting out in right field near Pesky’s Pole when David caught not one, but two, game balls.

“It was in the top of the 5th or 6th inning that the A’s hit a foul ball into right field,” recalled David, and employee at Maine Natural Gas in Windham. “I yelled, ‘Toss it here,’ and the right fielder picked it up and threw it right to me. I never thought I’d get a chance to catch another ball in the game.”

But he got that chance in the 9th inning. During the top of the 9th, the A’s had taken the lead and things began to look grim. But in the bottom of the 9th, David Ortiz got on base. The next batter popped out and then Varitek, Gina’s favorite player, came up to bat.

With the crowd starting to thin, leaving a number of empty seats around the Maloney’s, David began to strategize: “I thought, hey, if he hits one over, I’m going to jump up on the seat.”

At that very moment, Varitek hit a pitch hard. Just as he’d planned, David, oblivious to the right fielder who tried to jump into the stands to catch the ball, stood on the seat, waiting. His bare hands encircled the leather as he snatched the ball from the air.

“It was almost like I had hit the home run,” David said. “Some guy behind me came up and hugged me. Guys from five and six rows back were coming up; giving me high fives.”

Varitek may have hit the ball, resulting in back-to-back walk-off home runs for the Red Sox, but David Maloney left his mark on the ball, as well. In his zeal to make the catch, the force of the descending ball opened up a cut on David’s finger, staining the white leather with his blood.

But David shrugs it off: “The blood just helps me tell the two (balls I caught) apart.”