Charles Damico, 71, is a regular at Nationals games. He sits in the disabled section on the Nationals dugout side of the stadium and uses a cane because of two hip replacement operations and a heart condition.
He also brings his glove to every game, just as he has since he was a 5-year-old attending White Sox games at old Comiskey Park in Chicago.
He hopes to use that glove to catch a foul ball, but he never has gotten one.
“I’ve never even come close,” Damico says.
During the final homestand before the All-Star break, Damico was with his wife at a game when he was talking to a team photographer taking pictures in the stands.
“A ball came near here, and I had my glove out,” Damico says. “The photographer asked, ‘How long has it been since you caught a ball?’ I said I’ve been coming to the ballpark for more than 65 years, and I’ve never caught a ball.”
The story got back to Mark Lerner (above), and he decided that Damico had waited long enough.
“My wife and I were sitting here when someone came up behind me and said, ‘Is this the guy who hasn’t caught a ball in 65 years?'” Damico says. “I didn’t know what was going on. He came over to me and shook my hand and said, ‘My name is Mark Lerner.’ I didn’t catch it at first, then I realized this was one of the guys that owns the team now. He had his wife with him. He introduced her.
“He said, ‘Here’s a ball autographed by the team.’ I was touched by it. It was a total surprise. I had no idea something like that would happen. I am very grateful.”
There is no truth to the rumor that Lerner, mindful of Felipe Lopez’ difficulties executing routine plays at short, presented the new acquisition with an autographed baseball upon his arrival from Cincinnati last week.