Okay, I’ve now officially moved into creepy-stalker-guy status.
Let’s start with the where.
Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, home of the Kansas City Royals.
Now for the official disclaimer.
I become an 8-year-old the moment I step near a Major League Baseball field. To be more specific, I morph into the golly-gee-whiz-wow-those-are the-New-York-Yankees-8-year-old kid who says what he thinks. Adult filter gets tossed the moment I pass through the gates.
Let me also state, this all happens without my awareness, knowledge, or any conscious decision. I only become aware of it when certain things happen.
The awareness didn’t come when I did a one-fingered salute (think tip of the hat, not Hawaiian good luck) to future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. By the way, he nodded as if we’d been long-lost buddies. I could see the do-I-know-this-guy question flit across his face.
It didn’t happen when I plead on behalf of a father and his young son to recent 3000-hit-club-member Derek Jeter. “Hey, the boy just turned nine yesterday. How about a ball?”
It clambered up into conscious thought when I saw Johnny Giavotella stretching.
Our baseball journeys crossed a few years ago in Burlington, Iowa, home of the single-A Burlington Bees. Johnny (we’re almost best friends now—almost!) made a spectacular catch running from his 2nd base position to right field foul territory. I raved about that catch for days.
I hollered, “Hey, Giavotella (thank goodness for names on jerseys), did you play in Burlington?”
He happened to face me at the moment and nodded. Again I noticed the do-I-know-you look.
I shouted, “I saw you make an amazing catch.”
I recounted the play, stabbing my finger toward second base and following the story with my hand out to the foul line. I said, “Great play!”
Okay, at this point, I’m just a weird guy in the stands. I haven’t moved into creepy-stalker status quite yet.
Someone told me that Johnny’s mother had been in the stands earlier with the fans. This someone described her as having gray hair.
So let me repeat those details in case you missed them.
When Johnny came off the field and signed autographs, not mine by the way, I noticed an older woman in a special-fans seat on the field. She kept looking and smiling in Johnny’s general direction.
Remember the known details.
Well, she was an older woman.
But gray haired?
But, hey, she smiled. And looked in Johnny’s general direction.
Johnny left the field to get ready for the game.
I looked at the smiling older woman and hollered (I did a lot of hollering before the game even started). “Are you Giavotella’s mother? I saw him make a great play in Burlington.”
That was the moment, the unfiltered, uninhibited 8-year-old moment, when I bounded into creepy-stalker-guy territory.
I finally awakened to this revelation when the woman leaned forward, eyed me warily, frozen smile, and said something to the young woman in front of her. Perhaps she said, “This dufous thinks I’m some ballplayer’s mother.” She probably followed that statement with, “Do you have any mace on you?”
Would I ever do such a thing again? I’ll let you know after tonight. A friend, his brother, and I have tickets to another Royals-Yankees game. Of course, my wife (who would have insisted she’d never laid eyes on me before if she had been there) and my best friend already know the answer to that question. But me, I sit firmly ensconced in denial.
Here are three thoughts that arise out of this experience.
1) Memories connect. My mind trotted through a lot of thoughts to connect that play in Burlington with the player on the field in Kansas City. We attended a Kansas City Royals’ game. Burlington Bees are a Royals’ farm team. That player’s profile seems familiar. Burlington. Profile. Kansas City. Oh, my, I know that fellow.
2) Emotions emerge. The excitement of seeing that play in the past emerged into my present world. I buried the memory over time and in the proceeding pile of other events. I had no reason to recall the experience. But the moment the play returned so did the excitement. And it emerged in an emotional flood of enthusiasm.
3) Memories and emotions propel us forward. This is a tougher thought for me to grasp which makes it a tougher one to clarify to others. I’m not even sure what I write will make much sense. It’s more of a niggling feeling than a clear thought. But here’s my line of thinking. I had a great time in Burlington way back when. It made last night’s game better because it added the past excitement into the mix of present enjoyment. Therefore I anticipate another good experience at a future baseball game.
This, of course, isn’t simply about baseball. This recent thought happened to have walked down the avenue of a baseball outing but I apply it to faith.
A worship song fans a memory of the ONE’s faithfulness in the past. That memory and its accompanying emotions flame into a greater confidence in the ONE now which fuels my fire to continue on the JOURNEY.
P. S. I acted like a normal—perhaps unusually happy but not creepy—baseball fan on my second trip to the ballpark. And, yes, Giavotella signed my game ticket.
Question: Has a past experience, whether good or bad, brought an emotional response into the present? How does that affect your future?