Today’s column idea and discussion topic comes from this tweet from Sung Min Kim, a twitter follow I heartily recommend, especially if you fancy gifs from the Korean Baseball League. He did one of those quote tweet prompts, but I thought it was a good one and I figured I could use this space to share my story.
Quote this tweet with the first MLB player you've ever met. (Outside of the media settings, if you're a media member)— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) April 18, 2018
Mine is Nick Adenhart. We worked out at a same baseball facility. I met him few months before the tragedy. Rest in peace to the man.
When I was in 5th Grade, my teacher was a big baseball fan. This is generally a good thing for society at large, because the minds of the future being molded to like baseball is the sort of passive indoctrination I can get behind. However, this lent itself to weird assignments wherein the class was given a list of every MLB team at the time, and we were supposed to list the city they were located in. The prompt said city, so of course imagine my surprise when I put “Minneapolis” for the Twins, but the kids who put “Minnesota” were also right. Grumble grumble.
Anyway, my teacher decided to have our class participate in an essay contest. I don’t remember if it was statewide, or only Tucson-based, but the prompt of the essay was something like “What does a team mean to you?” (This was 20 years ago and I was a child, sue me.) I recall the teacher giving the advice of something to the effect of “Don’t use baseball metaphors to describe things in nature” (or something like that, if anyone who was in Ms. Hanley’s 5th Grade class at Whitmore Elementary is reading this, correct me, and hi, how’s it going, long time no see.)
So we all write our essays, send them in. We wait for a bit. One day in class, the Principal pulls our teacher out of class for a conversation. The jist of it culminated in our teacher letting out a tremendous yelp. Someone in our class had won that essay contest! The prize for this contest? Three members of the inaugural Diamondbacks team would come to our school for a day and talk to every class! This is pretty exciting! The best part is, the kid in our class who won it, basically did the opposite of what our teacher said to do. Take that, authority!
So around Spring Training time is when this was all going down. My immediate group of people-I-hung-around-with-at-lunchtime were into Baseball. It was getting around that age when you sort of decided if you were hardcore into Little League or not. I recall people saying things like “I hope we Get Matt Williams, Travis Lee, and Andy Benes!” Being a naive child, I also hoped for that.
We did, however, get a former Cy Young Award winner! The three players that came to our school were Jorge Fabregas, who ended up catching for a lot of the 1998 season before being traded, Kirt Ojala, a reliever who signed with the Diamondbacks in the 1997-98 offseason then was claimed off waivers by the Marlins, and 1989 Cy Young award winner Mark Davis, who had signed with the Diamondbacks, but never played for them and promptly retired.
Okay, not exactly the most prestigious group, but it’s still cool as hell to a baseball loving kid who was 11. For the whole day those three players, along with Greg Schulte and a bunch of news cameras, went from class to class and talked to the kids. I can’t recall what they talked about in general, but hey, got to meet some ballplayers! You could see me on the local news that night in the background! Whee!
So that’s my story. Let’s hear yours in the comments. I’m sure it will be a great exercise full of fun stories. I also hope there’s a random one like “I saw Brady Anderson on mescaline when we both saw The Crystal Method in 1999!”
I mean, probably not, but one can hope!