A Spring Training Tragedy

No, I don’t mean that I’m not going to Spring Training next week. Would y’all get off of that? I’m over it. *Takes another sip of beer*Just kidding it’s barely past noon*So takes another sip of mimosa*.

What I’m really talking about is the only time I have been to Arizona to hit up some preseason baseball. I went with my Dad when I was in 8th grade. It was one of the best, most generous gifts I’ve ever received. And one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

So why a tragedy? Shakespeare wrote tragedies (or did he…) and he’s famous for them, so quit your bitchin’ and just read on!

There was the infamous fly-fried-in-our-Safeway-chicken incident. The missed opportunity to get inside the A’s clubhouse because of Adam Melhuse wracking his ankle on second base. And my inevitable sunburn. But those are nothing compared to what happened when I went to see the A’s play the Cubs in a split squad game.

I’ve sat mere feet away from the bullpen in a big league game. I got a ball handed to me by Robb Nen. I sat two tables away from Mark McGwire at California Pizza Kitchen. But those experiences are hogwash. Because at this A’s/Cubs game in Arizona, I sat about ten rows up from the field with my Dad, waiting for the game to start.

I’d already exhausted myself running around getting autographs from all the A’s players I could and was acquiring the aforementioned burn while the teams took their final warm ups. I was ignoring a large crowd of Cubs fans at the fence below me, trying to get some old coach to sign their stuff. Pft…silly kidsWasting your time.

Then I glanced again. And it hit me. I squinted, and made out the clear face of Ryne Sandberg as he lifted his head to answer an autograph-seeker with a laugh. I can tell you, I’ve never moved that fast in my life.

There was no doubt about it – that was the future Hall of Fame second baseman. I had completely forgotten he was coaching with the Cubs and would therefore be at this game. I found a blank ball, dove across my Dad to grab my pen and  I’m pretty sure just time-warped down the bleachers to get to the fence. I was completely okay with bowling over 5-year-olds in order to get this signature.

But like a heart-wrenching Hollywood script, I watched from my epic mid-air jump, in slow motion, as Sandberg finished signing a ball, waved a thank you to the crowd and turned to retreat to the dugout. The last thread of his jersey disappeared into the dugout as I landed at the fence.

Have you ever been so disappointed, shocked and ashamed of yourself that you just wanted to sit in a cold shower and cry? That’s how eighth-grade Jeremy felt watching one of the best second baseman of all time stride away, just out of reach.

To this day, missing Sandberg haunts me. It was a fabulous Spring Training trip. One of the best experiences a baseball fan could ever ask for. But I’ve vowed from this day forth to get that damn autograph. And I imagine when it happens, I’ll be able to shake Ryno’s hand and we can laugh about my previous swing-and-a-miss.

And probably get a beer together. And then he’ll ask me to play for his team. And I’ll help the Cubs to their first World Series title in a million years. And Sandberg (who I will probably be playfully referring to as “Sandy” by then because we’ll be so tight) will introduce me at my Hall of Fame ceremony.

And…what? Hey, anything is possible at Spring Training. Just don’t be a doof like me. Be prepared. And don’t buy fried chicken from the Glendale Safeway.

That’s some real talk. Welcome back, baseball. I missed you!

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One Response to “A Spring Training Tragedy”

  1. günstige Ausbildung zum Coach Says:

    günstige Ausbildung zum Coach…

    […]A Spring Training Tragedy « Jam Shots[…]…

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