That trip to the ballpark was a winner

“I loved baseball from as far back as I can remember. It seems perfect that I would find my true love at the ballpark,” says Phil Elson, radio play-by-play man and director of media relations for the Arkansas Travelers (Travs), a minor league baseball team in Little Rock. Julie Polsky wasn’t a serious baseball fan, though she did enjoy an occasional Cardinals game. That was expectable in a St. Louis family where she was the one sister sandwiched between older brother Josh and younger brother Andy.

Julie graduated from the University of Missouri, with a major in textiles, and in 2001, she accepted a job in a major retail store headquartered in Little Rock as a product technician. Her parents, Ellyn and Phil Polsky, were happy about the position, but concerned about the Jewish singles scene in Little Rock, not known for its large Jewish population. After all, Julie was then 22.

To research the scene, the family went to JDate and learned that, at least, one Jewish guy existed in Little Rock, 24-year-old Phil Elson, a radio broadcaster for the local baseball team. He became the target.

When Julie moved, her parents and two brothers drove with her to Little Rock in a three-car caravan, to help her set up her apartment and possibly to help her connect with Phil Elson. They knew where to find him, at any ball game at Ray Winder Field. Yes, they spotted him in the press box. Now, they just had to find a way for Julie to meet him. They wanted Julie to be proactive and to just go up and introduce herself. But Julie had her own way of doing things. And so did Phil. This is an excerpt from the story that Phil wrote for Minor League Baseball Magazine:

“On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 19, 2001, the Travs played their final regular season home game against the Midland Rockhounds. After the top of the second inning, I pulled my binoculars to my eyes and scoured the stands. I stopped at the 15th row of section F in the first base box seats and saw a petite, dark-haired girl in her early 20s. She sat with a friend, talking and smiling, thoroughly enjoying the ball game and the summer heat. My binoculars stayed pinned on her. I was mesmerized and she was beautiful. She featured a gorgeous smile and freckles galore. The way she walked told me that she was a sassy lady.

“All of a sudden, she looked directly at the press box and caught me staring at her. She flashed that amazing smile and tilted her head. Although I felt like a fool at the time, I smiled back and waved at her. For that split second I forgot where I was. Then I realized that the commercial break was over and went back to calling the game. I tried not to pay her much attention for the next two innings, but my curiosity got the best of me after the fourth and I locked in on her.

“She caught me again, but this time she waved at me. I lowered my binoculars, stunned for a split second. I waved back. Then she raised her right hand and put up three fingers, then one finger followed by two fingers. I wondered what she was doing. Did the scoreboard have the count wrong? Was she telling me how old she was? Then it hit me and I almost fell out of Ray Winder Field’s open-air press box.

“This gorgeous young lady was giving me her phone number from 100 feet away! Hurriedly, I scribbled it down on my scorebook and then got back to the game. I was too shocked to respond to her. For the rest of the game we exchanged glances and smiles. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the final out was recorded and the fans got up to leave. If not for my post-game show, I would have leaped down to the seats.

“She left the ballpark without saying a word and I was left to my post-game show. We had two days off before heading to West Texas for a 12-game road trip that would end the season. One day before heading out on the trip, I sat in my press box and gathered the courage to call her.

“I dialed the number and it was wrong. WHAT?!? I wrote down the wrong number? Of all the stupid things that I had done — wrecking the car when I was 16; staying out until 2 a.m. the night before the SAT exam — this was the worst. There was nothing I could do. I didn’t know her name and I didn’t know where she lived or worked. I screwed up big time!

“The next day I hopped on a plane and flew to El Paso to start the road trip, resigned to the fact that I would never see that gorgeous baseball fan again.

“I was wrong.

“Thankfully, the Travs made the playoffs due to a first-half East Division Championship. We began the first round in Little Rock against the Wichita Wranglers on Sept. 2. Game time was 7:30 p.m. and she got to Ray Winder Field at 7. That’s 10 minutes before the pre-game show started. Perfect timing! From the press box I saw her and bolted to the grandstand. She stood in the souvenir line and I walked right up to her. I extended my right hand and asked her name.

“‘Julie’ she told me. ‘And why didn’t you call me?’

“I fessed up to the idiocy of my writing the wrong number and got her real phone number. We talked one hour after the Arkansas Travelers beat Wichita. We talked the next night right before the Travs headed out to Wichita to finish the series.

“I spent eight long days on the road. Julie and I spoke on the phone every day. And when the Travs’ Luxury Liner returned to Little Rock, I went home, showered, shaved, and drove to her apartment for our first date.”

On Nov. 6, 2005 Julie Polsky and Phil Elson were married. Mazal tov!

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