Something about the light outside today whisked me back to an early Sunday afternoon in 1959, in my Grandpa’s gardens. They’re all gone now, along with the house, the chicken coop: dogwoods, roses, black and red raspberries, grapes, butterfly bushes. All torn down as a sacrifice to Progress.
So I was standing there in the sunshine, ten years old, opening a pack of baseball cards which Grandma had just given me. And as the wrapper came off, the top card was, as pictured above, Sam Jones: aka “Toothpick Sam,” because he often chewed on a toothpick.
What a treat! This was one of my favorite players ever. I don’t know why. Something about his face, I think: it made me feel like it would be just so wonderful if this man someday took me fishing. It wasn’t exactly hero-worship at first sight: no. Just something in this man’s face that made me really, really like him. Until I had his baseball card, I’d never seen him before.
And oh, bliss! A few days later he was traded to the Giants–my family was a Giants family–and went on to win 21 games for them that year.
Maybe it was the way the light came down on the gardens, behind a houseful of my family. They’re all gone now, too. And as far as it goes for me, baseball’s gone, too–changed so much, I just don’t care about it anymore.
But the memory remains; it’s a very vivid memory. And I’m thankful that I have it.