Right before bedtime, most children were being read Dick and Jane, Dr. Seuss or Mother Goose stories, but I was falling asleep to Lou Brock stealing second base, Willie Mays making yet another great catch or Henry Aaron slapping another game winning home run, with my baseball glove usually under my pillow.
Children always seem to aspire to lofty goals and I was no different. My dream was to someday pitch at the Major League level. It was the only thing I ever imagined myself doing as an adult. From the first time I threw a baseball in that rocky alley behind my grandparents home in Spokane, Washington my only ambition was to work the diamond at some magical place like Busch Memorial or Dodger Stadium, dressed in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform. But time always seems to add realism to a youth's insight, so as the years unfolded, I discovered my destiny wasn't on the field, but in the stands.
Even at the professional level, every man has to step away from baseball sooner or later and alter his role in life. My transformation came with little fanfare and was very uneventful in the overall scheme of the sporting world. Still, as I walked away from the game that I so desperately wanted to play at the big league level since the age of 5, it was extremely painful.
While married, my former wife once asked if I ever had my heart broken in my life. Without having time to really think about the question, my prompt response was, "Yes, when I wasn't selected to the Babe Ruth All Star team during my final season." How could I fill that gigantic void knowing I just wasn't talented enough to play organized baseball after my sophomore year in high school? Well, acceptance that I reached the pinnacle on my last team, Asarco, in Babe Ruth Baseball was the best place to start. But out of that emptiness, another portal was opened that might have had more significant than playing the game itself. And that was watching Major League Baseball games.
A big league ballpark is a magically enchanted journey in itself. It's my personal Field of Dreams, where I have the opportunity to visualize myself through the endurance of Roger Clemens or the overpowering speed of a Randy Johnson slider. It's also a place to relive history in knowing Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Lou Brock, Sandy Koufax, Roger Maris or Mickey Mantle stood at any given spot at either Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium or other different older ballparks.
The first game I ever witnessed was at The Kingdome in Seattle between the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners in 1977. I can still remember walking into the dome stadium in awe of it's vastness and marveling over the humidity that hovered far above the crowd in the stadiums ceiling rafters. My seat was located right over home plate on the third level.
It was there on the deck's white barrier, I rested my arms and head while watching Seattle pitcher Stan Thomas duel Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski. And now, several years later as a parent and a grandparent, my three children, two granddaughters and I have persisted to proceed towards my dream of attending a game at each of the 30 current Major League Baseball stadIums. Now that's priceless.
"My dream was to someday pitch at the Major League level."
"The game of baseball was my first real love and the men that artfully mastered it were larger than life itself"
"Baseball has been very kind to me. And whoever God may be, I thank God that my oldest son and I share this passion known as Major League Baseball."