Pat Smolen of Lorton, who says he is the ultimate Chicago Cubs fan, got the thrill of a lifetime yesterday afternoon.
"This is a true honor," said Smolen, 27, as former Cub and Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks autographed a baseball for him. "Ernie Banks has always been my hero."
For Smolen and 17 other fathers from the Washington area, boyhood imagination came to life yesterday when they played in the first Prince William Old Timers game before about 2,000 at Prince William County Stadium in Woodbridge.
Banks, 55, fellow Hall of Famer and former Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller, 67, and three former Washington Senators -- shortstop Rocky Bridges, outfielder Chuck Hinton and pitcher Jim Hannan -- joined seven other former big-leaguers in challenging the local fathers, who made the team by winning a Father's Day raffle at Potomac Mills Mall.
"If Bob Feller hits me with a pitch, that would be a thrill," said Pete Steketee, 43, of Manassas.
A hot, humid day that started with a 50 percent chance of rain contributed two hours and three innings of sunny, breezy weather for the fathers' first big league performances. They shagged flies, took batting practice and even discussed what would be their strongest batting lineup.
"They'll wait and just bring us in for the late power," said Robert T. Doan, 48, of Burke about himself and Meyer Gordon, 49, of Bethesda.
The fathers found out quickly how the former big-leaguers got their claims to fame when father Bill Brady, 27, of Woodbridge got shelled for five hits and six runs in the bottom of the first inning.
"The umpire told me to pitch it where they could hit it," said Brady.
Feller struck out five of the first six fathers, but he didn't get Alexandria's Mike Morrell.
"I got a hit off Bob Feller," said Morrell, 38. "He may be 67, but it was still a hit. What more could you ask for? I'm on cloud nine."
"That's the most I've pitched in quite a long time," said Feller. "I'll sleep well tonight."
The fathers came back to score two runs off Feller in the second inning on a wild pitch that brought home Washington's John Melrose and Fairfax's Tom Plunkett. That would be all for the fathers, however, as the oldtimers won, 9-2.
Doan said he never would forget this day. "My kids and I had some ice cream with Ernie Banks over at the Potomac Mills Mall," he said. "Now there's a really nice man. This was fun."