Late September. A getaway game that matters. Doug Fister had just K'd another Kansas City Royal.
Too lazy to keep score, I sat in the afternoon sun backtracking just how many strikeouts my Tigers starter might have. More than a few and less than a -- wait aminute, these countless swings and misses were consecutive.
Am I ... ? Did he ... ? Is this some kind of record?
When the home plate ump rang up Fister's ninth straight strikeout, when the stadium leapt to its feet and for no reason whatsoever, I found myself turning and looking into the eyes of a man down my row, a man I'd never met, never knew was there until that very moment. Like me, he was still sitting. He looked back.
"Yes, it is," he said, without saying another word.
For any baseball fan worth his or her salt, the World Series is just south of a religious experience. I have no doubt the white-hot excitement we feel in Detroit does not trump the incessant drum beat of passion felt in San Francisco.
Equally evangelical, we worship our teams, just a couple of old school franchises steeped in history, both with vast memories of past legendary feats as palpable as the modern day heroics that got us all to where we are today.
Whatever happens over the coming days -- and a lot will happen -- there will be moments to remember. Plays will become Shakespearean plot twists. Players will rise up heroically or fail tragically. When that happens -- that Willie Mays on-the-run, over-the-shoulder, game-saving catch and throw or that final Mickey Lolich curve that ends up falling harmlessly into catcher Bill Freehan's glove -- when that happens, the flag-waving masses will leap up like lemmings, their arms twirling towels like thousands of spinning atoms.
When they do, and when you suddenly realize you will never forget what you've just seen, remember to turn and look. Still sitting, deep under the bill of his vintage orange "SF" or his weathered "Old English D" cap, you will see the eyes of a True Fan look back at you. With a lifelong love for the greatest game played on dirt, without saying another word, he will tell you, "Yes, it is."
Jeff Daniels is an actor, singer, songwriter and Detroit Tigers fan.