Today I was running an errand in the suburbs, delivering some girl scout cookies, and I passed a Goodwill store. I always go into stores like this, looking for some old books (and if you’ve ever been here before, you already know the topic I look for the most) or maybe an interesting coffee mug or something like that. But today I found something different, something cheaper than a book and probably more useful for the fidgeting that I do all during the day. I got myself a slightly-worn, but still perfectly respectable, official Major League Baseball, for the bargain price of 99 cents, plus tax.
After I paid for the ball and returned to my car, I started thinking about the ball itself. Without it, there is no game. The pitcher has nothing to throw to the batter. The game loses all meaning. The players lose their livelihood, and fans like me don’t have anything to focus our attentions on. We would replace it with something else, certainly, but we wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much as we do baseball.
So what was this ball’s story? With Commissioner Selig’s signature on it, it can’t be all that old. Maybe it was fouled out of play in Comerica Park a few years ago. Or maybe it was tossed into the stands between innings of a game in Coors Field. Or maybe (and I think this is far more likely than the other possibilities), it was little Jimmy’s’ birthday present, and he played catch with it once or twice before losing it in the back of his family’s garage. It doesn’t matter what the truth really is, because it feels the same in my hands, anyway.
So what story will I tell anyone in my office who wants to know about where it came from? I suppose it depends on what mood I’m in that day. But you–the reader of this blog who will probably never lay eyes on the ball in the real world–will know the truth. And sometimes the truth is just no match for a really good story.
Every day brings us closer to when the games actually mean something, and posts like this one can fill in the spaces until then. And if you’re reading this before April 5, 2012, I’m glad I could help, in some small way.