As the year draws to an end, I would just like to wish everyone a happy new year.
This blog got its start because I always wanted to write about baseball in some form. I wasn´t sure which direction to go as you can tell from my first few posts back in 2009. I´m still not sure half the time, and the other half I´m completely lost. However, what draws us all here to read blogs of this type are generally two things: an appreciation for baseball as a game and appreciation for baseball as a uniquely nostalgic history. This can be expressed through collecting cards, going to games, watching mlb.tv, or what have you.
Many of us have had baseball permeate our life through experiences with our family. Who doesn´t have fond memories of going to games as a child? Others have had baseball become a folklore as we can recite which cards came out of which pack from which store during which year? While even others have had first hand run-ins with our heroes of the diamond and cardboard and foil.
This is one of those such stories.....but I was not the benficiary
As is often the case when reaches a certain age, certain activities become part of the lexicon which did not exist before in my previous experience. One of these is perusing antique shops for furniture. Furniture shopping is one of the worst things that I can do on a weekend because of my childhood (Brad knows what I´m talking about).
Anyway, because IKEA furniture doesn´t last that long and apparently, every corner of an apartment needs to be filled with something...(why? I can´t explain the mind of some people)...antique stores have been the last refuge of semi-affordable, don´t gouge your eyes out after seeing the price furniture.
It was during one of these trips to an antique store that I stumbled upon something else that I had to have. It was simply a wooden sign that said ¨I heart baseball cards¨ with the heart actually heart-shaped. It looked like it was from the 1960s or so. After an afternoon of searching in vain for furniture, finally there was something worth looking at and buying.
I went to the front of the store to have it purchased (my friend was kind enough to give it to me) and the proprietor of the store started asking me about baseball cards. Do I collect? Who´s my favorite team/favorite player? He showed me some cards in the front case. They were all early 90s Upper Deck Heroes cards.
He then told me that his other location had more cards and I should look there, and I assented. He then started asking where we were all from originally. The group was eclectic with myself being born in Philadelphia, one from Spain, one from Massachusetts, and another from Oklahoma. (all living in the Bay Area now.)
He then said he was from Texas and started talking with the person from Oklahoma about similar places and family traditions and so forth. But one piece was interesting in that he said his favorite team was the Yankees because of where he was from.
He must have been 70 years or more, so there was no team in Texas to root for outside the minors. Maybe he had a minor league team in his town? No, he said it was because of his aunt and uncle.
His explanation continued.
When he was 7 or 8 years old, he used to stay the summers with his aunt and uncle. He said that the group of kids that was there used to play baseball in the backyard of his aunt and uncle as well as the adjoining neighbors. They used the clothesline posts as bases and tried their best to not break windows.
He said that there was one boy, who must have been 12 or 13, who was head and shoulders above everyone else in skill, regardless of age of the group of kids. He could run, catch, throw, and hit better than anyone he had ever seen.
I then asked where his aunt and uncle lived. And he replied......a town called Commerce, Oklahoma. In other words, the home of the Commerce Comet, Mickey Mantle.
It turned out that his uncle and Mickey Mantle´s father worked together in the mines (if I remember correctly) and the Mantles lived either on that street or at least in the same neighborhood. His aunt kept a scrapbook of everything that Mickey Mantle ever did and he started rattling off facts about him.
By this time, it was time to move on to the next antique store, so we had to bid our leave. It turns out that furniture shopping can be interesting after all.