In 1973 I won a contest run by George Plimpton for the New York Yankees. You had to write a short essay explaining why you wanted to play baseball in Yankee Stadium — the prize was getting to play baseball in Yankee Stadium, one exhibition inning before a real game against a team of former Yankee stars. We got to suit up for a practice with Plimpton — I wore an old uniform of Thurman Munson’s, then a current Yankee star — on an off-day in the stadium. (This was the old stadium, before it got remodeled.) I fouled a lot of balls off into the stands, where they banged around and echoed among the empty seats. It was thrilling.

In the exhibition game I faced Whitey Ford on the mound — he was lobbing his pitches in underhand — and grounded out to Mickey Mantle, who was playing first. That was also thrilling. Taking the field (to play left field) I was amazed at how much space there was out there and gained a new respect for the vast amount of ground a good outfielder can cover.