By Andy Young
Special to The Windham Eagle
When I was growing up, most kids were teenagers by the time they decided (hopefully temporarily) their parents were hopelessly backward, socially inept morons, cultural troglodytes who had no clue about life in general and young people in particular.
But I was ahead of the curve on that one.
I was a mere 11-year-old when I got all the proof I needed regarding my father’s utter cluelessness. It was a hot, humid Saturday afternoon. My Little League baseball teammates and I, having just finished our game, were sprinting over to the snack bar with the 25 cents we had been given by the kindly adult who had been in charge of “passing the hat” during the contest. Nearly everyone was purchasing popsicles or ice cream sandwiches with their quarter, but not me. I invested all twenty-five of my cents into five packs of Topps baseball cards. In the back seat on the way home I celebrated when I got the Bill Freehan card I needed, but moaned audibly when none of the packs contained an Al Worthington, which both my best friend and I needed to complete that year’s 6th series.
And that was when my father revealed the depth of his simplemindedness. “What are you going to do,” he asked insolently, “if you ever stop caring about Major League Baseball?”
It was quite possibly the most ignorant question I had ever heard. Me without baseball was no more conceivable than Bugs Bunny without carrots, Popeye without spinach, or Clark Kent without a phone booth. Of course I didn’t dignify his asinine query with a verbal response. I may have rolled my eyes, although if I did it would have been out of his line of vision, since in those less-enlightened times disrespecting one’s elders could merit anything from a whack on the rear end to, if the affront was grievous enough, a swat across the face. But still; what a dope! Had I known what DNA was at the time, I’d have prayed I was adopted.
Time marched on. I played baseball (except for a brief time when I was deemed academically ineligible by my mother, who wasn’t far behind my dad on my personal “Foolishness Scale”) until I wasn’t good enough to make a team. Then I coached, umpired, and, as a nominal adult, worked in professional baseball as a broadcaster, publicist, and jack-of-all-trades. I spent a large part of my first four decades on Earth obsessing over sports in general and baseball in particular. I have played, coached, officiated, written about, and spoken about the game, and have done all but the first of those things for pay.
Which brings me to last week, when I opened to the sports page of the newspaper and read the following headline:
Lewis and Williams Named M.L.B. Rookies of the Year.
Then it hit me. I had no idea who “Lewis” or “Williams” were; I couldn’t conjure up a mental picture or a first name (Kyle and Devin, as it turns out; I looked them up) for either one.
Then I thought a little more. The most recent big league baseball game I attended was in Montreal, which has been without a team since 2005. I can’t remember the last time I watched baseball on TV, and when I last visited Fenway Park my ticket cost five dollars and fifty cents.
At that moment I experienced an epiphany: my dad was apparently a whole lot smarter than I gave him credit for. I also came to a second, even more sobering realization.
I never did get that Al Worthington card. <