I’m still on baseball. Read an article about the most overrated professional baseball players. Some impressive names.
Of the list I cast no vote. If I had I wouldn’t have labeled Anthony Rizzo as overrated. But, hey, that’s not my point. But, honestly full bias never aside, don’t say anything about any Chicago Cubs player!
What the article did is to trigger a moment. I’m rather surprised how many apparently small moments played such a major role in my life.
A small word. A kindness perhaps not deserved.
What I’m thinking about, because it does have to do with a very good major league baseball player, Pete Ward of the Chicago White Sox. He hit a ton, had lots of homers.
But what I focus upon is when I was a freshman in high school, stood on the mound for my first baseball game—have written of it before, my Jefferson High School team against Franklin. I have recalled how my father stood against a Douglas Fir tree, his garbage hauling overalls still on, the truck parked on Ainsworth…and my Miller grandparents, parked on the street just beyond the left field home run border…in their 1939 Oldsmobile—the one with the gear stick up from the floor.
The moment. I have forgotten it a thousand years, it appears. What I remember about Pete—our third baseman, his senior year, is he held his hands at least an inch apart in holding the bat. Plus, I remember once when he was signaled to bunt. He hated bunting. So, he bunted foul twice which gave him a swing.
The moment, though, was a seed planted. I never thought I was worthy, but I also didn’t think I was nothing but bench material.
Pete probably could tell I was nervous. No mystery because my first 3 warm-up pitches went way over the catcher’s head…the umpire scooted to the side!
Pete called time out…walked to the pitcher’s mound, took the resin bag in his hand, lofted it and caught it back, flipped it to the mound. All a body-language cover story. He then tapped me on the butt and said, only for me, “Miller? That right? I can tell…you’ve got the right stuff. I believe that.”
Well, hell. How did he know that? But, his words worked! The encouragement, the cheering, the belief.
Sure, there were many other “words” as I grew up. But, what I recall now is Pete Ward. I believe he and his wife, Margaret, still live in Lake Oswego. Gosh, when I get there in a couple of weeks, I better look him up and remind him of that word…his word. Hopefully he hasn’t moved on to the veritable Field of Dreams.