While watching “Baseball Tonight” with Britt, I began telling her yet another story about baseball. As a youngster, stupidly admiring ballplayers, Tom, Greg and I would take what little money we had and purchase caps (hats) we could not afford. Since my oldest brother, Mike, who in the 1970’s was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Greg picked the most ridiculous cap available only because my mother loved the Pirates and Mike was a great catcher like Greg. Tom and I took it to another level. We wished to kick it up a notch, or dollar, by begging mom on her Sears credit card to buy us some ridiculously cheesy plastic helmets with which we would travel around Spokane wearing and thinking we were cool. Talk about not being cool…..unless we weren’t in Gannon Stadium playing wiffleball, we looked like the only reason we should be wearing these helmets was because we may end up on a swing set, or God Forbid, monkey bars.
Tom chose the Cincinnati Reds helmet because, at the time, Pete Rose was one of our favorites. I chose the LA Dodgers helmet because I loved the team, and I was a huge admirer of Steve Garvey, one of the all time Dodger greats. (many of the team members played minor league ball in Spokane) My sister, Maggie would often make fun of me by describing me walking down the church aisle waiting for Dodger Garvey to solidify our married bliss. I remember reading a biography about first baseman, Steve Garvey to my mom, who so gently tried not to fall asleep. Now I know why she was trying to fall asleep. Steve Garvey turned out to be what some people call, other than Wilt Chamberlain, and George Washington, “The Father of our Country”. He cheated on more girlfriends than he did on wives.
I am not a person who passes judgment at the age of 38. Acknowledging my mistakes is one of a few reasons I can pray about keeping me out of Hell. But, at the age of six or seven, devoting hours to people you revere, and reading books they didn’t write, and were completely phony, I think I had a right to dislike and not respect Steve Garvey.
Tom’s Pete Rose helmet gambles for itself. Although being banned from baseball for gambling, he seems to be, genuinely, if you will, a complete D Bag. My father, when I was admiring these players at a young age told me Pete Rose wasn’t someone I should look up to. It wasn’t the gambling my father disliked; I could tell, in his eyes, my father just simply thought he wasn’t nice.
Baseball, like so many other wonderful sports has its’ share of A-Holes. I guess what I learned most from my father wasn’t on the field. It was the manner with which he taught me to look into someone’s eyes and see both the bad or, hopefully, the good. Other than being a goofball, I do think I have a gift for recognizing when a person is good or not so good. (I don’t wish to use the word “evil”…..that may make me return to church on a weekly basis.)