Trip Down Memory Lane

Clean out that junk drawer, she said.

You can’t even open the drawer without jamming it, she said.

Okay, okay.

This morning, I decided to clean out one of many junk drawers in my house. Yes, I have many, but this one is where I keep my mailing supplies–big rolls of mailing tape to send out books, mailing labels, Sharpie pens–you know what I mean.

But in the back of this junk drawer are my baseball cards–the ones that aren’t in a notebook, organized in sleeves by teams.

I only keep baseball cards that have special meaning to me. For example, my mother loved Mo Vaughan from the Red Sox (one of the last players to wear #42 before Major League Baseball retired the number in honor of Jackie Robinson), so I kept several in honor of her. By the way, she didn’t even like baseball. She liked Mo because he was involved in the community.

I bought several cards (“commons”) for my late father-in-law, who loved George Brett and Brett Saberhagen of the Kansas City Royals. Whenever I look at those cards, I think of the man who flew airplanes during World War II and then for the now-defunct TWA, who loved his job, who had a gentle way about him, and who thought everyone at TWA was either “a nice guy” or “a nice gal.”

Kirby Puckett. Ah, yes, Kirby was one of my all-time favorite players. But, you might say, if you know me at all, he played for the Minnesota Twins, not the Red Sox! You’re right. I loved Kirby. I even named a dachshund in his honor, which, in my world, is one of the highest tributes one can pay to another. Kirby played the game with a joyous intensity that infected the entire team. He didn’t start playing baseball when he was really young; he took up the game later in his youth, and he picked up that love and passed it around.

Harmon Killebrew. ANOTHER Minnesota Twin. Back when I was a teenager, we would always go to the games early so that we could watch batting practice. Harmon was one of the guys who made a point of talking to the kids at Fenway Park. He loved the kids. He joked around with us, made us feel as if we were part of the game. We cheered for him, even when he blasted our Red Sox pitchers. He just was baseball!

Nolan Ryan. Never saw him pitch in person, but wow, just wow. Watched him on television, and couldn’t ever figure out how he could keep up that pitching intensity for so many innings without going to the bullpen.

So many other cards brought back memories. I found a Vladimir Guerrero card from when he was with the Montreal Expos. He’s being inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this month. His son, Vlad, Jr., is playing minor league baseball in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is the spitting image of his dad. Bruce Hurst, who would have been the MVP of the 1986 World Series, had the Red Sox won. Mike Greenwell, whom my son and I saw hit an inside-the-park grand slam against the Yankees in Fenway Park.

I even found a card that WAMC made with MY photo on it, as a fund drive premium from 1996. My long-gone dachshund Steffi (named for Steffi Graf) is in that photo with me.

I could go on and on.

The drawer is in better shape now. I found $1.17 in coins, three dead batteries, several shriveled-up rubber bands, three tarnished sterling silver necklaces, a box of matches from Yankee Candle, seven small rolls of everyday Scotch tape, in addition to the big rolls of mailing tape…

And so much more…

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