I have a funny story to share about baseball wisdom, Kevin, and Kimberly. I’ll share the story and add a comment about Nancy at the end.
Baseball Wisdom Part of the Story
Thirty years ago when Kimberly and Kevin were very young, I read an article about baseball. The article said that baseball is a game of firsts: first pitch to a batter, first batter in an inning, first inning in a game, first run in a game. I have limited knowledge about baseball strategy, but that made sense to me. A pitcher wants to be throwing first pitch strikes to the batters. When the first batter in an inning gets on, the chance to score in an inning goes way up. I took this as baseball gospel.
When my kids were in grade school and I would take them to their annual Twins game, I would share this baseball wisdom with them hoping that they would pay more attention to the game. At least, pay more attention to the first strike to a batter and pay more attention when a runner gets on base. I also shared this baseball wisdom on the numerous occasions over the years when I went to a game with an adult who knew little about baseball. It made them enjoy the game more and, even better, made me sound smart.
A few years ago, I started wondering about this baseball wisdom. I listen to a lot of sports talk radio and podcasts and I realized that I had never heard any sportscaster say, “Baseball is a game of firsts.” Even more disconcerting, when I googled “Baseball is a game of firsts,” nothing came up regarding this theory. Which brings me to:
Kevin’s Part of the Story
One of the podcasts I listen to is called “Gleeman and The Geek”. It stars Aaron Gleeman and John Bonnes, two local baseball stat heads. They mainly talk about the Twins. They started the podcast just as the Twins got bad in 2011, so they have been talking about bad Twins baseball for six years. They deserve our pity and sympathy.
This summer they started something new to connect with their listenership: they scheduled four Tuesday Taproom events. The events take place in a local brewery on a Tuesday when the Twins are on the road. Attendees get a free beer and a free Taproom beer glass and everyone watches the Twins game on TV.
I took my son Kevin to the April event at NorthGate Brewery. I decided that it was time to test the validity of my baseball wisdom. Kevin and I introduced ourselves to Aaron and John and I asked them if they had ever heard the old baseball adage “Baseball is a game of firsts – first pitch, first batter, first run, first inning.” John immediately said “Nope.” Not maybe, not let me think about it. “Nope.” Kevin thought that was hilarious. All these years positioning myself as a baseball expert was down the drain with a one-word answer. I had to explain everything to John and Aaron about reading the article, sharing my wisdom at baseball games so my kids have heard me say it about 20-30 times, and thinking that it was great baseball strategy. John and Aaron were very nice about it and said that it could have been true 30 years ago, but the game has changed a lot. John added that Kevin should still listen to his Dad even though he had been exposed as a baseball fraud, etc. etc. Which brings me to:
Kimberly’s Part of the Story
Right after the April event, I invited Kimberly to go with me to the May 23rd Tuesday Taproom event at 612Brew. Due to Kimberly having three kids, she did not confirm that she was available to go until 3:00pm on the day of the event, at which point I sat down and wrote John an email asking him to do a huge favor for me.
The baseball game and the Tuesday Taproom event started at 6:00pm, but Kimberly and I got there at about 7:30pm since we had to get the three kids ready for bed. The Twins were winning 1-0 with Ervin Santana pitching a whale of a game. We got our free beer and our free glass and sat down to watch Brian Dozier hit a home run to make the score 2-0. We watched Santana pitch a complete game shutout. Very satisfying.
When the game got done, I insisted to Kimberly that I should introduce her to John and Aaron since they had met Kevin last time. She reluctantly agreed. John and Aaron were very nice and thanked Kimberly for submitting a question and thanked us for coming. I then said something like “So John, can you share any special baseball knowledge that will make it worth Kimberly’s time for joining us tonight?” John paused and said, “Kimberly, baseball is a game of firsts.” which immediately made Kimberly laugh out loud, roll her eyes and exclaim “Oh jeez!” She quickly realized that I spent the last month encouraging her to join me so I could set her up for this moment. John and I thought it was hilarious. Aaron even realized what was happening and began laughing with us. As we walked out of the place, I filled in Kimberly with what happened at the April event and how my sage baseball advice was no longer valid (which didn’t shock her). I explained that I had emailed John that afternoon with my plan and he was very nice to immediately respond with an agreement to help me. She was shocked that I pulled this off.
Many thanks to John Bonnes of Twins Daily http://twinsdaily.com/ and the Gleeman and The Geek podcast http://gleemangeek.libsyn.com/ for helping with this family story, which will be repeated and laughed about many times in the future.
Which Brings Me to Nancy
For those of you who are reading this and don’t know my family, my wife Nancy died on March 16th of this year after a four-year struggle with colon cancer. Nancy liked baseball more than any other sport since she grew up cheering for the Twins during the Killebrew and Oliva era. I’ve been working very hard at being OK, filling in the days, and looking towards the future. But, this story from last night made me really miss her. She would have loved this story and would have laughed a lot about it. If Kimberly and Kevin have heard me say “Baseball is a game of firsts” 20-30 times, Nancy heard me say it 100 times.
I miss seeing and hearing Nancy laugh and smile. As everyone who knew her can attest, she was a great laugher and had a wonderful smile. I cried last night when I was alone because I missed sharing this story with her.
I want to thank John Bonnes for helping to remind me how much I miss Nancy, how I need to continue to recover from my grief, and how laughing about this story will help me move ahead.