Tag: Cleveland Indians

I Am Cleveland (Thoughts on Lebron)

It’s been over 48 hours now.   You and the rest of the world now know that Lebron is coming home.

I wanted to write about this yesterday but this is my first opportunity to get enough time to gather my thoughts together and put it all into words.

Before I really get into it, I need to unpack my mind of a few things.  Hopefully you’ll stick around for the whole post. Especially if you’re not from Cleveland or Ohio.  Even if you swore you’d never forgive what Lebron did or if you, like me, could care less about NBA basketball.

I need to make sure everyone knows… I AM CLEVELAND.  However, IACI was not born in Cleveland, Ohio.  I was born in Sandusky, Ohio.  That is about 60 miles from Cleveland.  Lebron James was born in Akron, Ohio which is about 40 miles from Cleveland.  Lebron says he is coming home and if “home” is 40 miles away from Cleveland then I will take liberty and say I am from Cleveland as well.  I mean what does 20 miles make when it comes to being home?  That being said, I have no ties to Cleveland other than the fact that it is “in Ohio”.  

My first loves of sports teams did not start in Cleveland, they were found in Baltimore.  Where Johnny Unitas threw the football and the Orioles were playing in the World Series. I did what kids have done since the beginning of time… I just followed where the championships were won and became a bandwagon fan.  Not because of the love of the team but because at the time that was all you could watch on TV.

Then as the championships faded away and those Baltimore teams fell into mediocrity, I became less and less interested in following them.  I could not identify with them. Then just like the first time you realize the existence of girls, my twelve-year-old mind and heart started searching  for something real, something I could love forever, something I could identify with.

I found it… or rather it found me in the city of Cleveland.

I don’t need to go through the list of heartache the City of Cleveland has endured cleveland-city-1when it comes to sports. The list is long and heartbreaking. I can tell you where I was when a majority of them happened. The City itself has had it’s share of tough times. It has rebounded and fallen again. It seems like just when the sun starts to shine on Cleveland, something happens and the clouds arrive again. I think that is why the people who love Cleveland live and die (more die than live) with their beloved sports teams. It’s their escape.  No matter how bad a team is, each season begins with it a hope that this is the year.  That “just once before I die” finally comes true.

It’s well documented but Lebron was one of our own.  He knew our long history of failure.  In a way that was both unhealthy and unfair, we thought he was going to be the guy.  He was just out of high school and we thought the storybook ending of one of our own delivering the thing that has eluded the city for so long was perfect.  I have always maintained that I wasn’t mad about his “decision” to leave. I was mad about HOW he went about it.  The “Decision” that took place four years ago wasn’t supposed to happen.

For the past four years I have always felt that Lebron was never comfortable in the role of villain.  He never wore that well.   He regretted the decision but it was something he had to do. Don’t we all chase something at some point in our lives? Sometimes it turns up as expected, but often it does not.  I always believed that Lebron would someday return, I just didn’t think it would happen now.

As the days passed the tension in Cleveland began to build.  I believed that if he chose Miami or anywhere else this time, it would crush Cleveland once again and I braced myself for that to happen.  This was not the 2010 decision.  He remained quiet.   Social media, national media and fan hysteria began to build like a title wave.   For days, twitter was a constant refresh and sports talk radio was filled with talk of Lebron.  Where was he?  What was he doing?   Who wewtam1100re the sources?   How would we know?   Web sites crashed.   Planes were tracked.  It was all a bit too crazy.

Then on Friday, I was driving back from Elyria with Cleveland Radio blaring in the background.  I also had my phone on just in case some news broke.  In a “where were you” moment, a “breaking news” alert came across the radio and my phone rang.   I listened as my brother-in-law (a devout Piston fan) yelled into the phone, “Your boy is coming home.”  Even he admitted that it was good for the people of Cleveland.

One after another after another, tweets linking Lebron’s essay on SI.com.  Apparently, Lebron wrote a letter explaining his decision and it was used as a press release.  The local radio hosts were going insane. It was a moment I will never forget.

And then they read the letter…..  (Click here to read)

I was smiling ear to ear as they began to read Lebron’s words.  Chills covered my arms and legs, as the radio host james16closed out the final words of his letter, he couldn’t finish.  He was choked to tears.  He paused, gathered himself and finished it out.  I understood everything he was feeling because I was misty eyed too.

Lebron was coming home.

But the emotion I was feeling wasn’t about Lebron… this wasn’t about basketball and it certainly wasn’t about sports.  This was about a love for a city.  This was about the city of Cleveland and it’s people.

I said this before and I say it again….with every fiber of my being, this is not about the Cleveland Cavaliers.  For me it’s not.  I am not even a fan of the NBA.  Oh sure… I sort of paid attention when Daugherty, Nance, Price, Hot Rod and Harper played for the Cavs many years ago.  But I am not even sure I will watch much more NBA now that Lebron is coming home than I did this past year… which was almost none.

I’m sure there are people who celebrated yesterday just because they believe this man will bring home a title.   For me, the last thing I thought about yesterday was titles and wins.  I thought about a City I call “home.” I thought about the financial implications.  I thought about the closed bars, restaurants and businesses that sit around the arena.  In true Cleveland fashion, they have fought and tried to come up with ways to give some kind of life to these establishments.  It’s been a struggle but they never quit.

With those three simple words, “I’m coming home”…  life and hope were delivered to a city I love.

People will come to downtown.  Life will be breathed into a city that desperately needs it.  People began to gather downtown as soon as the announcement went live yesterday.  The Cavs sold out their season ticket packages in record fashion.  Those are dollars that will be invested into the City.  They will arrive early and stay late.  They’ll support local businesses before, during and after the games.  Hopefully, they will continue to see a winning product on the court for years to come.

I can’t speak for all of us that are fans of Cleveland, but I think I can.  They, like me, love the City of Cleveland.sports They’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly and I’m not just referring to their sports teams. They want to see their city alive like we’ve seen it before. They want Cleveland to be something other than a punchline or report of some bad press. They know the beauty that lies on the shores of Lake Erie. We’ve heard all about the “mistake” by the lake but we know the “potential” of what Cleveland can be.

I don’t know who’ll read this. I don’t know what city you’re from.  Maybe it’s a city that has always been on top.  It’s easy to cheer for a winner… it’s tough to taste heartbreak and loss.  Maybe you rolled your eyes at the endless string of Lebron posts on social media sites yesterday.  Maybe you’ve never understood “Cleveland Fans” or their reactions to the misery. 

If you feel the need to hold up your hand and show how many championships your team may have won and/or you feel the need to always make Cleveland the butt of a joke then you just don’t get it and I feel sorry for you.  Because you will never understand nor appreciate what it is to be a Cleveland fan.

For one day, for a few crazy hours, Cleveland fans lost their mind.  Emotions ran wild and this time it was mostly positive.  Frustrations were released.  Like I said, many probably are dreaming of championships and now place a huge weight back on the very broad shoulders of Lebron James.   Fair or unfair, that challenge is going to be his responsibility to make it happen.

Today… I celebrate for the City of Cleveland.  I am glad that Lebron is coming home.

After all… I am Cleveland.



I turned 52 this year.

I guess that I can finally assume that my NFL opportunities are coming to a close. The season is starting and I have waited patiently by the phone waiting for a call for the past 30 years during the NFL Draft and each April I am disappointed.  I always continued to work out hoping to get a shot at free-agency, but not this year.  I am beginning to think I may never get that call.  That being said… I think I need to move on and I still believe I have a small window of possibility with MLB and now I will place all my focus on that.   All I need is for someone to give me a shot.  Hey Cleveland… I’m available!!!

Obviously I am joking and it is plain to see that the NFL is keenly aware of the fact that I have not played a single down of organized football since the seventh-grade.  Infamously documented here (Click Here).  In addition, unfortunately my excellent baseball skills are documented here (Click Here).

The bottom line is that I have reached a point in my life that I honestly appreciate the fact that God did not give me everything I ever wanted.  God’s greatest gift to me is telling me NO or not answering a prayer the way that I wanted.

It has given me an opportunity at 52 years of age to say that I have gained a perspective of life that I did not have even a few years ago.  My personality is such that I tend toward the negative and somber. That’s not always good (but it’s not always bad either). However, sitting here, realizing I’ve been given 52 years thus far, I know that I have much to be thankful for.

These things are what is going through my mind as I look to express my perspective:

God doesn’t owe me anything, but He’s given me everything. 

God has given me a beautiful wife and four wonderful children.

He has taught me the meaning of grace through marriage and how to die to self and love my wife like Christ loved the church. He’s given me a help-mate and a woman I love very much.

He has blessed me with two grandsons.

God has given me a job that I love.   

I’m thankful for my church.  I never thought I would be a part of another church that I would call family.

I’m sure I could sit here all day, but I have to start working out… Major League Baseball  (maybe even the Cleveland Indian’s) may be calling me soon… so I will leave it at this.

God, thank you for everything.

Love Your Dad? Ditch the Tie

Last night my son, Nathan, took me to a ballgame.  He bought my ticket and we enjoyed a victory by IMG_0303the Cleveland Indians.  We shared the moment just like we did when I took him to his first ballgame when he was five. It was a great night… but not because of the Indian’s victory and it wasn’t great because it was “dollar dog night” or because there were fireworks after the game.

Father’s Day is here again. If you haven’t already, you’ll be spending a day running to the mall in search of the perfect present.

On behalf of all fathers, I’d like to deliver a message to anyone who has a Dad or is married to one. It might be the thought that counts, but you can’t wrap thought up in a box.

So let me give you some advice… if you are looking for the perfect gift and you find yourself in the tie department at Macy’s, hating yourself along with the rest of tie-giving children of  father’s like me. It’s time to realize it’s too late, futile and time to give up.

Your father doesn’t want another tie.

If he wants to read a book, he’ll buy it.  He doesn’t need another shirt, but if he did, he’d go get one. There’s not much he wants that he can’t get on his own.  But there’s one gift he longs for that you alone and only you can give – and you won’t find it at Brookstone.

Let me let you in on a little secret…

Inside the heart of your father and almost every man you know is a young boy who once wrapped a Super Hero Cape 2towel around his neck and pretended he was Superman.  He wears that cape proudly because it makes him believe he can fly. It makes him believe that all things are possible and it makes him believe that he can be a hero that can make a difference in this world.  Then one day this young boy grows older and abandons his dreams to fly, but he never quite loses the hope that he can save the day. He spends his whole life chasing his moment of glory, trying to build something bigger than himself, something that will leave a mark on the world that he couldn’t.

Then one day, hopefully sooner than later, if  you’re lucky, you will come to realize that the mark that he wanted to leave in this world …was you. You are his legacy. You are his reason why. You’re directly tied to his purpose…and therefore, his self-worth as a father.

So you won’t find what he wants at the mall.

Want to make this the best Father’s Day ever?

Tell your Dad you love him. Don’t write it down. Just tell him directly, with your own voice and not through a  Hallmark card.  Speak from the heart.  Make a moment of it. Thank him for the work he’s done and the sacrifices he’s made for your sake. Thank him for the best of what he’s planted in you however smSUPERMAN_LOGO_all or big that may be.  And maybe once again in his life he can feel the cape of Superman around his neck.

I am no different from these other fathers.   Along with my wife, I have raised four children and if the walls of our home could speak they would tell a story of the struggle of a blended family trying to make it work.  It wasn’t perfect and I made mistakes and there were times when life was hard on all of us.

But I have a special gift that I carry with me everyday and that gift is clearer in my memory on each and every Father’s Day.  That special gift is the memory of when my children have used their own words and looked me in the eye and told me they loved me.28 (2)

So last night, after the game, when I dropped my son off at his apartment just outside of Cleveland.  He looked me in the eye and told me he loved me… I received the best gift I could ever receive for Father’s Day. He gave me a gift only he could give…one that did me a kind of good I can’t even fully explain. Words fall short but for the moment I could feel the cape around my neck once again.

Love your Dad?

Ditch the tie.

This year, give the Dad in your life something they can’t give themselves. Tell him you love him…with words you’ve never used before.

On behalf of all fathers, I can assure you, there’s no greater gift than to give him another opportunity to wear the cape once again.

There are a Few Things I am Thankful for But Make 2009 Go Away

Maybe it’s just me,  but 2009 was a difficult year.  I am not sad to see it go away and be logged into the history books.   As I have reviewed this past year, I have noticed that so many of my posts have been directly related to the things that I was experiencing or thinking about at the time.  I have never written a post to get or gain attention.  I write to clear my head and it relaxes me. With that in mind, I have attached links to previous posts to the various experiences I have encountered this past year.  Please feel free to click on them and re-read some of my favorite posts of 2009.

It has been a year where I have had to deal with some serious health issues.   A few surgeries later, I am in still in recovery mode, trying to deal with the results of the operations.  Sometimes the cure is worse than the problem.  More importantly, this year was a time when I had to endure the loss of the two of the closest friends I have ever had on this earth.

Within a short span of three months, I lost Bob Emrich and Bryan Blakely.   Bryan was my closest childhood friend growing up in Oak Harbor, Ohio.  There wasn’t much that happened to either of  us from the time we were 6 to 18 that we were not involved in together.  As life happens to all of us, after high school we went our separate ways.  We always stayed in touch but we both lived in different parts of the country and we were on different paths.  However, Bryan was part of a foundation in my life and when we were able to get together over the years, it was just like old times.  Thirty years may have passed but it would only be a few moments and we were just like we were when we were 18.  Good times.  He was taken way too soon.

Bob was my mentor and he was the one person that could always point me in the right direction.  He was an example to me of what it means to live a life that would bring honor to his family and to his God.  He showed me how to truly live as Christian in this world.  He taught me more about God’s grace than any preacher that I have ever heard.  No, he was not perfect but he was a perfect example of what God can do in a person’s life if they allow Him to work in their life.  Bob wasn’t a preacher but a truck driver.  I cannot tell you how many times I would call him and he would be winding his way through the mountains of Tennessee or making his way through the corn fields of Iowa.  He always made time for me and always had a good word to say.  I still cannot bring myself to delete his phone number off my phone.

Performing the eulogy at their funerals was the most difficult thing that I have ever done.   I cannot express to you how much I miss them.

This year was also a time where I had to deal with some major health issues.  Without boring you with the details, I had to have two operations.  The second surgery was much more serious than I  was really prepared for and I am still dealing with the results of the operation.  Those results have hindered my ability to write and to do many of the things I did and enjoyed so easily in 2008.

For example, I have completely lost hearing in my left ear and have a 60% loss in my right.   I am on the fast track in becoming deaf.   Anyone who knows me, knows that I love music.  It is something that I have enjoyed my whole life and it is slowly being taken from me.  I have also lost most of my ability to taste food.  Most of my tongue is numb and I have limited ability to even taste what I am eating or drinking.   Finally, my right hand is still asleep.  This hinders my ability to write and typing is much harder than ever before.  The doctor says that while there is no chance that my hearing will come back, I may experience some improvement with some of the other issues.  So, while I am waiting to recover from this surgery,  I am trying to do what my friend Bob would have done.  He would  have called me to talk about the things we were thankful for in spite of the circumstances that we are in.

In honoring his life, I am trying to put into practice what he would have done.  In that process, I realize that I am extremely thankful for many things in my life, in spite of the difficulty of this past year.    One thing in particular that I am thankful for in 2009 is this blog.  Over the year, I have had over 150,000 visitors.  Now I know not all of them read my blog and some visit my blog just to read what new ridiculous and stupid thing  comes out of my mouth and spills out onto these pages.  Like I always say,  I love to write…I never said I write well.

One post that went viral this year was a post about things I am thankful for  called  “A Few of My Favorite Things… .  This post has by far has been my most popular post with over 20,000 hits and still growing.   I wrote that after my first surgery and just posted a few of my favorite things and things I was I was thankful for.   I would like to update it and add to those things and really be thankful for what God has allowed for me to be a part of in 2009.

So here are a few of my favorite things to be thankful for 2009…

And finally, in no particular order, here are a few of the maybe or maybe not so important things  to be thankful for…

So there you have it… a list of a few of my favorite things I am thankful for in my life.  No, the list is not complete and I am sure that there are more things I am thankful for if I would sit and think for a few minutes.    However,  that is for another time.

In closing, I will not be sad to see 2009 go away.  I am looking forward to what God has in store for me in 2010.   The slate is clean and anything is possible.

I will not be surprised by anything that may happen…but then again, maybe it’s just me.

Trying vs. Training

Maybe it’s just me…but I think we are fooling ourselves.

After watching the Cleveland Indians blow another lead.  I just could not stomach any more baseball for one night.  So I started my nightly channel surfing routine… when I came across  the NCAA Track and Field Division II Championships.  I love to watch track and field. I sat there watching these fine tuned and highly trained athletes demonstrate their skills and abilities as they competed on the track.

I know it is hard for anyone to believe but I was a pretty good runner back in the day.  The longer the distance the better I was.  I have always wanted to run in a marathon. I would often imagine what it would be like to run in the NCAA or the Olympics.

As I sat there on my couch, I imagined for a moment that there is a knock on my door.   I open the door only to find that standing on my doorstep is a delegation from the  USA Olympic Committee.  They inform me that they have had some serious discussions and the result is that they would like ME to be the  representative for the marathon at the next Olympic Games.

Of course this is the very moment which I have been waiting for.   Now is my chance to get into those brief marathon togs and show the world how good of a runner I am (was).    But suddenly it dawns upon me that I have difficulty running to the refrigerator, let alone in a marathon!   In fact,  I couldn’t run a marathon even if  I tried really hard! No matter how hard I would try…unless I had trained there would be no way I could accomplish the task.

When it comes to running a marathon, you must train, not merely try.  If I went out tomorrow and tried to run an marathon…I might make it a few hundred yards before the paramedics would have to surround me, with shock paddles in hand to jump start my heart.  I can almost hear them yell, “CLEAR!!!”  I know for a fact that it would end in disaster.

Trying hard can accomplish only so much.   So, if I am serious about grasping this chance of a lifetime, then I will have to enter into some serious training.   I would have to rearrange my life around some practices that will enable me to do what I cannot do now, by willpower alone.

I laugh at myself for the ridiculous thought of me ever running 100 yards, let alone a marathon.

Then it hits me.   I realize that the same principle applies to my spiritual walk as well.   Simply trying is not enough.  I have to train my mind and my heart to be more like Christ.

In fact, training is required for any significant challenge in life.   We learn much more by Training than we do by Trying.

Which one are you?  Are you trying to be more Christlike, or training to be more Christlike?

We even talk about the Christian faith sometimes as “trying to live like Jesus”! – but that’s not what the Christian faith is about at all.  Its not all about us “trying” harder.   Unless I have developed some of the skills and abilities in life which Jesus had, then try as hard as I may, I will still not be able to live like Him or respond to life’s challenges as He did!  This is what the apostle Paul means when he encourages his young protégé  Timothy totrain yourself in godliness.”- He didn’t say “try to be godly”!   Paul uses the familiar imagery of training for athletics when he writes to the Christians in Phillipi when he says how he is “striving to win the prize” – and how he is running straight towards the goal  in order to win the prize.   Inherent in this imagery is the strong understanding of the necessity for training.

So spiritual transformation is not a matter trying harder, but of training wisely.  It’s a time to get serious about our spiritual training.

I believe Jesus was effective when tempted by the devil and overcame those temptations because he had spent the first thirty years of his life  “training  in godliness “.   He didn’t just come out of nowhere – without any background of prayer, or learning of scripture, or communing with God, or fasting  – he didn’t just arrive on the scene in the dessert without having spent time in spiritual formation – and then faced Satan head on, and overcame him – just like that! .  I am sure there were many other lesser occasions when Jesus knew the power of Satan to tempt and to lead astray, but he had grown through those temptations.

I want to conclude with briefly pointing out just three reasons why Training in godliness is important.

1.  To get the most out of life!

If I can be more like Christ – then I think there is a much greater chance that I will get along with people better, enjoy relationships with people more,  find that life runs more smoothly than before.   The apostle Paul writes that he “doesn’t want to put obstacles in anyone’s way, and so we show that we are God’s servants by patiently enduring troubles, hardships and difficulties.” ( 2Cor.6:3f)

Life isn’t always easy, and we need to learn how to patiently endure troubles, how to be kind, how to be joyful even when we don’t feel like it.   If I can be more like Christ then living my life as an example to others, will be less of a challenge for me,  because I will want the things which God wants for my life.   If I can be more like Christ then mostly I should get along with my friends (and my family) better, handle my finances more sensibly and have better priorities for my life.   Just as I get more out of myself physically when I train for a marathon, which I would never get by simply trying,  – so I will get more out of my own life, spiritually,  and my relationship with others and with Jesus Christ – when I train in godliness.

2.  Training in godliness is important because it’s the only way we mature, or grow up into the likeness of Christ.

In Ephesians chapter 4 , the apostle Paul speaks about the church as the Body of Christ and how God gave each of us spiritual gifts which, when we diligently exercise them, and employ them – then the whole church is built up in maturity.  We are given spiritual gifts, – in order for the church to benefit from them  – we should also train well in their use.

3.   Training in godliness is important because it pleases God.

This really, is a combination of the previous two.

Does God want us to grow spiritually– to be more loving, more forgiving, more compassionate, more generous, more joyful– and all those other fruits of the spirit?   I believe Yes!

And those things only happen, and those fruits of the spirit only grow when we employ the means that help them grow.

Jesus confronted people directly about the choice to become a follower.  He came with the gracious announcement that it is now possible to live in the presence and under the reign of God.

It IS possible to live in such a way that when people see us they will say “I didn’t know a life could look like that?”  It has happened for many who have followed Christ, and its really possible for us to experience that.  This is the race for which we were born.

But we will not drift into such a life if we merely try…we must decide to enter into training.

We need to stop fooling ourselves and quit trying to be Christ-like and train to run the race He has called us to run.

I believe that today is the time to start.

But then again…maybe it’s just me.

Every Kid Deserves to be a Hero

baseballsLike many parents in Fremont, Ohio I have spent many late nights at the park watching my kids play ball.  Having my wife be at one game while I was at the other and then switching after three innings so that we could both see our children play are great memories.  My kids are now all grown and not playing ball anymore.  I miss those times. They went by so quickly.  For the past few years, I just drive through the park to get the feeling again.  Every time I do, the memories flood my mind.  Often, I am taken back to my playing days… a long time ago…

As a kid, I loved baseball.  I would play it as often as I could.  Game days were the best. I usually spent most of the day dreaming of playing in the game that night.  Back in 1972, the ultimate sin on game day was the fact that we were forbidden to swim. ( Is that still a rule?) So, since I could not swim, I would play out the game in my mind. With my wiffle ball and bat in hand, I took my place in my backyard playing out the many different situations of the game. In my mind it was always me that was up to to the plate at the crucial time…and like always it was me that delivered the mighty blow to win the game.  I would be carried off the field in honor of my athletic feat.

Who of us hasn’t dreamed about the getting the big hit, scoring the basket or catching the pass for a touchdown in the waning seconds of the game to secure the win for your team?  I believe that it’s every athletes dream that has ever played the game.

On a hot July day in the little town of Oak Harbor, Ohio something happened that I have never been able to forget.  It has been over 40 years since this event and it feels like it was yesterday.

Here is what happened…

It was every boy’s dream.  We had a big game on that hot day in July.  We were playing the best team in the league.  I did not start the game that day.  I was charged to sit the bench until it was time for me to get in my required one inning of play.  Don’t get me wrong, in my backyard I was always the hero, but in reality I was content to get my one inning and maybe one at-bat.

It was a very close game.  We had the lead 4 to 3 in the top of the sixth inning.  The coach had no other choice but to put me in the game.  I was sent to my usual place in right field and just prayed to God that I would not have a ball hit in my direction.  I did not want to be any part of losing the lead.  I would just be happy to be able to celebrate with my teammates after the game. Three outs and we would win the game.

The events that caused our lead to dwindle had nothing to do with me.  Not a single ball came in my direction.  The other team scored two runs in the top of that inning.  We now were losing 5 to 4.  As I ran to the bench after we got the third out, I looked up and saw my coach looking down at the score book.  Then it hit me…I may have to go up and bat!!! I went over and looked at the score book and saw that I was scheduled to be the 5th batter.

“Ok, maybe we can score two runs before I have to get up to bat.” I was hoping in my mind.  But fate would have it’s way that day. To my dismay, I was going to have to bat.  We had one man on second base and one on third.  Two outs and now it’s all up to me.  I reached down for the 28″ bat I used and started my way into the batters box. I am sure the sound of my knees knocking in fear could be heard in the stands.

RLLBI closed my eyes and reached deep down inside and gathered all the courage I had in my body. “I can hit this guy,” I thought to myself.  All I needed to do, was keep my eye on the ball. After all, I had done this a thousand times in my backyard.

Just a hit…a hit would at least tie the game.  If I hit it well, maybe I could score both of them and we would win the game.

“Don’t over-swing…just make contact” I told myself.

As I dug my cleats into the dirt, I tried not to show my fear.  I also did not want to look too confident. I only wanted to be the hero.

I settle into my standard Johnny Bench batting stance.

(NOTE: I am an Indians fan.  I have been my whole life, but back in 1973, there wasn’t a whole lot of players on the Indians squad that young boys would try to emulate.  So, just like about every other kid I knew, we took turns trying to look like Joe Morgan or Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds)

First Pitch…  here it comes…  right down the middle…  it’s perfect… I grip the bat harder with my hands and start to swing and I suddenly stop myself.

“STRIKE ONE!!!” the umpire bellowed.

I didn’t want to seem too eager…”Make him pitch to you” I told myself as I stepped out the batters box.  I reach down and grab a handful of dirt and rub it into the bat.  I would be ready if he threw another pitch like that.

Next Pitch…  here it comes…  it’s perfect! SWING

I’m not exactly sure how it happened, my memories begin with the crack of the bat, and the sight of the ball rising high into the crisp blue sky of summer. My mind raced…  “It was perfect and I got all of it!” I thought to myself.

Then something happened that had never happened before.  I don’t know why I did it but I did…

I put my head down and start to head to first base.  I was sure it was gone and I started go into my  backyard “home-run trot” around the bases.

As I round first base, I  keep my head down and keep on my trot around the bases. Thoughts of being a hero were rushing through my head.  I couldn’t wait to hear the cheers from my teammates, coaches and fans. It was exactly how I played it out a few hours before in my backyard.baseball

I reach second base,  my teammate is still standing there.  I wanted to tell him to run, because I just hit a home run.  But the look in his eye told me something was not right.  He was looking at me like I was the village idiot. Then suddenly I hear the sharp laughter of the fans, not to mention the cries of laughter from the opposing team.

“What happened? There is NO WAY that they caught the ball,” I thought to myself.

Then it hit me… no, they didn’t catch the ball… it fell well short of the fence and in foul territory!

I stop my trot around the bases, hoping to find a place to disappear.  There is no escape from the laughter of the opposing team and the snickers from my own teammates.  I pan the crowd to see who exactly saw this and to my dismay…just about everyone.

I look to see my coach just shaking his head…

I really don’t remember the last pitch.  Just the umpire yelling out, “STRIKE THREE!!!”

I have told this story over the years with many different endings. Sometimes, it’s another player who does this embarrassing act.  I then get to make fun of him. Sometimes it’s me.  I usually get a hit to tie the game.

Not often, but sometimes I tell the story as if I hit the home run to win the game.  I tell the story with as much conviction as any story I have ever told.

So, maybe it’s not exactly what happened.  But that’s the way it should have ended, and that’s the way I like to remember it.

And if dreams and memories sometimes get confused… oh well… that is as it should be, because I believe that every kid deserves to be a hero.  Even if that hero may stretch the truth every now and then.