What a way to start a day. More than that. What a way to make my day. I start with a postscript. Background to the note.
Tom Widlits is a cousin who works for Nike. He and Jill live in Portland area. When Tom was in high school he was an all-state player, then went to San Diego State, had a great career there. Injury kept him from becoming a professional player.
This morning Tom wrote the following missive:
“I had a Dr appointment yesterday with a Sports Medicine Dr whose office is located in what used to be the center field bleachers at old Multnomah Stadium in SW Portland and the windows look out onto what is now a beautiful soccer field and stadium for the Portland Timbers. (I only bring this up for context, the story is long and rambling but it has a point) So, anyway, while waiting for the Dr. I commented to the receptionist that this is really beautiful, and in the ensuing conversation I mentioned that I had actually played on this field a few times in high school, and in my last game at the park had actually hit a home run, over where we were now standing, which would have been the scoreboard in center field….she went on to start to show me a few of the displays in the room, apparently they are storing all the memorabilia for the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame while the hall looks for a permanent space. Our conversation about baseball led to this display of bats, and lo and behold right in front of me was the name of a dear friend…wow dude, you are immortalized! Your name standing out front and center on that bat. Thought you’d enjoy.”
That’s the postscripting back story.
What happened that led to a name on a bat: The summer of 1962 I pitched [one of 5 pitchers] for the Archer Blower & Pipe semi-professional baseball team. Far beyond me we were good. Really good. The rules were we could have five former professional baseball players. The rest of us were professional baseball player wannabees. Mostly college guys. We won two tournaments and were on our way to Battle Creek, Michigan, to play in the Semi-professional Baseball World Series. Eight teams. Single elimination.
We won the first game. Two victories to go. Milo Meskel, God rest his soul, our coach, asked me to pitch that second game. Was against a team from Marietta, Georgia. Before the game, with a smile headed to a smirk, Milo said, “Mark, this will be interesting. The umpire asked about you, had heard after these games you were headed to New Haven for seminary. He said the Georgia pitcher was a Southern Baptist Minister.”
I didn’t scowl, did my best shoulder shirk. Although “Very Inside” I hoped the umpire wasn’t a Southern Baptist.
We did win that game, 4-3. The next night we won…so were Semi-Professional National Champions.
About a month later I got a bat in the mail…and on it were the names of all our players.
And then. This morning Tom writes.
Yep. A great way to start a day. Never imagined I’d be part of Oregon Sports Museum, memorabilia. No, not immortality. Not even close. But. A feel-good moment. And that counts, too.
Along with 20 other teammates.
Have dug out a pict from that year, my senior season in college.
Couldn’t pitch to home plate these days…but in my memories? The slider still slides. And more times than not, the fast ball has a little zip, painting the outside corner of home plate. I’m winding up now.