In life, I’m an English teacher at a community college in eastern Pennsylvania. I’ve been doing this for 6 years, and I love it. Don’t get me wrong; there are times that things in the profession drive me nuts, but it’s a dream that I’ve realized, and it has made me who I truly am. As this story plays out over the year, I’ll explain how much baseball has to do with that, but for now, let me just say that I don’t harbor any illusions that I would have made a good baseball player. When I was about 7 and I rooted for Dave Kingman, I might have, but frankly, I was never meant to be a Feelin’ 7-Up poster.
If I was to be anything else, I’d be a travel video producer, but that’s a Powerball win away, so for now, I’ll stick to my semicolons, noun clauses, thesis statements, and the intermingling of the Karate Kid into everything that I do.
In life, we all wish we were doing something else, but frankly, life is pretty good right here and right now. However, if the opportunity to work for the Travel Channel or National Geographic came to be, I would be out of here. In this, I like to think I’m a lot like Jim Morris was when he was teaching high school science in Big Lake, Texas. After an unlikely bet where he agreed to try out for a Major League team if his baseball team won a district championship, they came through and he went back to the baseball career that he had thought he gave up so long ago. As Morris would say years later, "I consider myself very lucky. God has a funny way of bringing some things around and knocking you in the head with the ultimate destination. Something I should have achieved quite easily took me a long time to get around to. It came in His time, not mine."
It wasn’t an easy road to get to the majors, but he made it and lasted two seasons before he retired. However, at 35, he came to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at a time when nobody would have ever seen them having a winning season let alone making it to the World Series. After 3 months in the minors, his 98-mile per hour fastball took him to Arlington where he faced Royce Clayton in his first appearance. Within 4 pitches, Clayton was down on strikes.
You may know the story. It’s from a Disney movie, which is a lot of what I seem to watch anymore. Mostly, I’m all about the Pixar movies. I just can’t focus on the negative stuff after a long day of work. I want for the good things in life, and I love watching stories about people who do well and do the right thing. For that, I love the Rookie.
Dennis Quaid does a damn good job portraying Morris for all of the truths and the watered down realities of the Disney movie, but it wouldn’t matter if it was Quaid, Kevin Costner, or Freddie Prinze Jr; it’s just a great story. Watching that movie over and over made me start buying specific baseball cards again. In my locked box of special cards, I have quite a few Morris cards, and they mean as much to me as a lot of the cards that are up in the attic from ages and ages hence. In most cases, they mean more.
Today, Quaid turned 56. I can’t say that he’s done a lot of good movies, although the Right Stuff was great, but he has done a lot of movies. He’s a survivor despite a stupid decision to not be faithful to Meg Ryan. I mean c’mon! Who the hell wouldn’t be faithful to America’s former sweetheart?
But yeah… life is full of weird roads and paths, and sometimes, we get chances to make up for the past and live life again in new roles that truly work. Sometimes, we’re Wyatt Earp. Sometimes, we’re trying to save our kid from the weather. Other times, we’re battling a shark in 3-D. And there are times when we’re playing second fiddle to a redheaded future train wreck who seemed to have the world at her feet before she discovered that cocaine is a hell of a drug.
In the end, life just is and we roll with it. That’s when Steve Earle plays and just makes life feel good.