He knew what he held in his hand.
Gingerly he removed the ball from his glove, took it in hand, and looked intently at Doug Mientkewicz, standing at first base. They exchanged a glance, and if they thought of Bill Buckner and 1986, it did not show on their faces.
And softly, softly, so very softly, he tossed the ball underhand– the way a father throws a ball to his boy, the way I have thrown a ball to my sons, the way my father first threw a ball to me, the way my father’s father never threw a ball to him (for, disgracefully, he had left his family behind at the height of the Depression, leaving my father to look to coaches for his role models)– softly, Foulke tossed the ball to Mientkewicz, who caught it, like so many boys have caught such softly tossed balls, after dropping them dozens of times before, caught the ball, and all of New England felt as you do when you catch your daddy’s ball, that, in this world of infinite failure and frustration, every once in a while, you succeed, and all the world exults.
Postscript. Fine piece by Dan Shaughnessy in the Globe on the very ball