Baseball Card of the Week:
During my one magical season of Little League baseball, Brooks Robinson became my hero. For whatever reason, perhaps the Gods decided to shine down upon me, I had that perfect year, the one that everyone dreams about, the one that defined Brady Anderson. Everything I saw, I hit, lacing doubles all over the yard, and everything that came towards me at third base, I snagged. Even my throws across the diamond were sharp and on point, a Herculean effort at the time. It’s the one time in my life when everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. For my efforts, my teammates nicknamed me the “The Vacuum” in honor of Brooks Robinson.
Because DVD collections, YouTube, and the MLB Network weren’t invented yet, the only facts I could learn about about Robinson were through the stacks of baseball books that I brought home or through the half-remembered legends that my coaches passed on. I felt a kinship with this man that I had never met nor had seen footage of, and at the end of the year when I was even rewarded with a trip to the town All-Star game, pulling down the special red and white pinstriped hat that marked us as All-Stars, I felt I had done him proud.
Of course, I never had another season like that again. Perhaps it was the tougher competition I faced as I went up the ranks; perhaps it was because I lacked the mental fortitude, becoming a player that performed ably in practice and disappeared at gametime; or perhaps it was that error I committed in the All-Star game when I not only dropped the ball, but couldn’t find it at my feet, allowing two runs to score. Maybe you can break a 9-year-old’s ego that easily.
And though I quit after my final year of Little League after winning the town championship as the reserve outfielder/guy who never hits nor catches anything for, predictably enough, the Orioles, my faith in the game horribly shaken, I remained attached to Robinson. Probably because there is something extremely noble and distinctely human about a man known for catching things he had no business catching, kind of like when you’re hired for a job that you’re clearly unqualified for.
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