.....Attorney Johnny Jacobs, who has been battling cancer since last Thanksgiving, almost didn’t make it to Thursday’s Yankee game. He was weak from the chemo, and in the unrelenting heat he found it difficult just getting from his apartment into an air conditioned car.
.....Warren Flagg, retired FBI Special Agent, had planned for this day weeks before, knowing that Johnny would rally when the time came. Flagg had seen it happen in the courtroom where, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Johnny prosecuting federal cases that Flagg had helped investigate. Even working the other side, as a criminal defense attorney, Johnny’s ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat earned a grudging admiration from the Feds.
.....Sometimes he lost, but he always got the last word. In one famous face-off, The Long Island Pet Cemetery Case, Johnny defended the owners, who had been dumping dead animals into a backyard landfill, while giving their pretend ashes to grieving customers who had paid for cremation. Special Agent Flagg worked on this picaresque case – which became grist for the late night talk show mill, as well the subject of newspaper cartoons – and the government won, but Johnny got the last word. “They were dogs, Flaggman!” Johnny famously remarked in a speech at Flagg’s retirement party. “What was the FBI doing with dogs?” Indeed, even twenty years ago many Americans might have agreed with Johnny’s wry, but prescient, observation.
.....It came as no surprise to Flagg that Thursday dawned cool and dry, to accommodate Johnny’s trip to Yankee Stadium. Things had a way of working out when Johnny was around. They took their seats behind third base just as the words Get Well Soon Johnny flashed across the giant screen, as Flagg had pre-arranged with Dan Mullin, Head of Security for major league baseball. Johnny was surprised and touched. Flagg turned around to the three young boys sitting behind them and said, “This is a special day. This man is sick” – he pointed to Johnny – “and we’re gonna catch a foul ball.”
.....Flagg had been going to Yankee games for fifty years without even coming close to a foul ball. And yet, there was something about this day.
.....The first two batters got base hits. Then, with nobody out, Sheffield got up to the plate, popped one up, and sent the ball straight for the seats behind third base. It hit Flagg’s arm, and bounced off his wrist, right into his hand. “You want it.?” he said to Johnny.
......“No. Give it to the kids.”
......The three boys had a day they’ll never forget at Yankee Stadium, and Flagg swears that Johnny Jacobs can still pull a rabbit out of a hat.