I was that kid.
I was the kid that jumped at the opportunity to not only see my favorite ballplayers, but to actually meet them as well. See, I came to age in the early 90’s, when being a young black kid meant having no shortage of stars that we could relate to. From Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas to Joe Carter, Barry Larkin, Barry Bonds, Tony Gwynn, Andre Dawson and a host of others. This was a relatable time, and the product of that time is a host of fans of the game. I met several of these greats of the game, in addition to others that weren’t on Mount Olympus such as them, but it was still just as major in my mind at the moment. Because it made the surreal turn real, if only for just a moment. But a moment turned into a lot more over the years.
Coming up in St. Louis, there were Ozzie Smith, Ray Lankford, Bernard Gilkey, Lee Smith, Brian Jordan, Mark Whiten … I mean, the list went on and on. And in many of those cases, I got a chance to have not only that very same moment above, but to actually sit there and ask the best questions I could muster at 9 or 10 years old. What’s bigger is that these giants in my eyes took the time to have those human moments. Along with the countless hours that my father and coaches took with me to show me the game, I developed some great memories, as well as a lifelong passion.
Baseball isn’t dying, but it’s not what it was a generation ago either. It’s a game that’s handed down in an era where less things are. It’s a game that is given from generation to generation, with a passion and patience unlike many others. It’s stoked in the experience of being at a park that seems both much like the one close to your neighborhood, but at the same time nothing like it at all. In the urban community, park life can be scarce, so the opportunity to see the splendor that is a big league ballpark is especially remarkable. It’s an experience that has to remain a special one, the type that a simple 30-second encounter can spark forever — to seek out better and better neighborhoods to play in. Until one day, you look around and see that same type of park around yourself, and a kid that looks an awful lot like you.
That all starts somewhere, at some point along the road of life. Take that time to create this moment.
I'm a firm believer that the closest I've gotten to Heaven is Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. In the meantime til we cross paths again, I'll pass along the gospel of the Field of Dreams here, Cheap.Seats.Please, I70 Baseball, and 'Live From The Cheap Seats'.