That song was playing in my head when I ran into a guy I used to know, the other day. He was showing me some of his antiques and I mentioned that my stepdad would have loved his basement, because he used to love all kinds of old tractor, auto, oil, and farm memorabilia.
He asked who my stepdad was, so I told him.
“Holy shit. I used to go watch him pitch for the Cold Springs Cats. He was a great ball player.”
“Yeah, he sure was. One of the best I’ve ever seen, but I only ever watched around here. Everyone tells me he was one of the best pitchers in the area. He said you and your brothers were good ball players too.”
“Yeah? We did play a lot of ball. Hey, you have to come and check out my sports room.”
I followed along and was just dumbfounded by what I saw.
There was an entire room dedicated to his hockey and baseball careers.
Jerseys, write ups, photos, sticks, you name it. It was pretty awesome.
He went through a brief history of all the teams, teammates, and leagues that he played in. As we would get to the next item, he would touch it and get a bit wistful.
These were his glory days.
Some people might have seen this as arrogance, but all I could see in his face was pride and love.
Love for something he had given up.
Just like Paul.
Well, not exactly, because Paul only had a handful of photos and trophies, a scrapbook, and assorted hats, pennants, and jackets. He played in a different era. Way different.
He used to come across his scrapbook every once in awhile when he was trying to find something else. He’d sit at the table and look through it slowly, reliving the moments, sometimes out loud to me. I saw the same look in his face that I saw in my friend’s face the other day.
He was proud of what he had achieved through hard work, practice, and determination, and as well he should be. I would be proud too. I was never that good at anything, so I never had to worry about feeling proud of my accomplishments. There weren’t any.
I was always average, or below, in sports, school, and energy levels. I suppose I was fairly good at dealing with people, but that was really not much use as a young man. I was, for the most part, just there.
I never had to worry about people thinking I was a braggart, because I had nothing to brag about. Believe me, you’d know if I did.
These guys had a reason to be proud.
They sacrificed their chance to chase their dreams for something bigger than any sport.
Nah, I’m just shitting you. It was babies and wives and that sort of thing. They didn’t become priests or missionaries that I know of, but I’m sure there were a few missionary positions available.
Anyhow, I just thought I’d mention this, because I know that a lot of people mistake pride for arrogance, but a lot of the time it’s coming from a good place. I’m sure there’s always the Mr. Destiny aspect for these guys, but they made a choice and stuck with it. Was it the best choice? Who knows, but I’ll bet they wouldn’t change it if they had the choice.
Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight and I’m going to drink till I get my fill,