By Charlie Sheen
(as told to Alex Belth)
I was born in New York but I’ve lived out here in L.A. since I was three. But I’ve always rooted for the Yankees. I also rooted for the Reds because my dad was a big Reds fan. Reggie was one of my childhood heroes and the reason I learned to hit left-handed. He took the world center stage in the Bronx. I was 12, 13 the perfect age. I remember the Reds sweeping the Yankees in ’76 when I was with my dad in the Philippines on Apocalypse.
But the first time I actually went to Yankee Stadium was in 1991. My dad was shooting in Pittsburgh and I flew in the nigh before he wrapped. He was a doing a movie-of-the-week or a mini-series. We decided to do a baseball pilgrimage. We went to game at the old Three Rivers that night. I think we saw both Bonds and Van Slyke go yard. After the game we got on the elevator to leave and Joe Morgan walks on. I happened to be wearing a Reds hat. And I had met him briefly at some point back in the day. He shook my hand and gave me a hug and I introduced him to my dad who was so impressed that I knew Joe Morgan.
The following morning we got out on the road and we took a road trip to Cooperstown to the Baseball Hall of Fame. We visited the Mecca. The next morning we drove to New York and went to a game that night at the Stadium. It was a trip because if I’m not mistaken they were playing Texas. Fifty-five has always been a recurring number for me and the first guy up was Brian Downing and he was wearing 55. You’d have to look it up if it was Downing but it was 55. I just remember thinking, “Wow, of course my first game and the first hitter would have to wear 55.”
We had a great time at that game. Pretty sure Mattingly hit a three-run bomb in the eighth to put it out of reach. When one of the security guys comes to us afterwards and says, “You guys want to see Monument Park?” Everybody’s gone and we got a private tour. Then we’re walking back across the field and I say to my dad, “Hey, let’s go to the dugout. Let’s see what this looks like from the players’ perspective.” So we’re sitting in the dugout and I look under the bench and there’s a ball wedged-up under one of the seat supports. So I pull it out and based on the tint of the ball—it had red clay on the stitches, it didn’t say ‘practice’ on it—I’m convinced that it was a used in a game. It was a foul ball that shot into the dugout and stayed there.
We kept it. I had to leave New York the following morning. I was digging through my stuff at the hotel room and I couldn’t find the ball. I’m like, Great, dad kept it. Okay, it was his first game, he’s entitled. So I’m on the plane the next day and about halfway through the flight I’m going through my carry-on and there’s the ball in a little plastic bag. It said, “Hey Charlie, Thanks for taking me out to the ballgame.” There was such a cool, full-circle feeling about that trip. Then of course, finding the ball on the plane. I still have it of course.
The other memory is a little bizarre. Went to a game in ‘96, mid-season before they started making their move. Took a buddy of mine, David O’Neill. He’s a director and a writer and an old friend of mine. We were in a box but he had never been there so he said, “I’m going to go see what this place is like, I’m going to go walk around.”
Comes back with a foul ball that he has caught off the bat of Paul O’Neill. What are the odds? And, another example of him being about the fifth person I took to their first game that got a foul ball. I’ve been to what, a thousand games in my life. Never even touched one.
I bought out the left field bleachers in Anaheim in the mid-‘90s in a game against Detroit. I bought 2,600 seats in the left field pavilion and I sat out there with three friends. I was going to force the hand of the baseball Gods and that didn’t even work. Nothing. Four balls hit the wall that night. And the next night, I watched on television as like maybe four or five landed not just in the section but pretty much in my seat of the day before. It was one of those reminders that you can’t force the organic flow of the American Pastime.