Have you ever met your idol? Think right now of the one person you most want to meet in the history of the universe. Jesus, Buddha, Einstein, who would it be for you?
I met that person. I was eleven years old.
I worship baseball.
Those words mean so much to me, I need to give them their own paragraph. This baptism of baseball goes back to the age of four when I joined my first cult disguised as my t-ball team. I was an ambitious little tyke. My first question to my coach: “When do I get my trophy?” Turns out we had to play the entire season before we’d get our trophy. We did get our trophy, but no thanks to me. I mostly spent my time sitting in left field with my glove on my head and my hat in my hand watching fly balls fly all around the outfield thinking, ‘Somebody better go get that.’
I watched my first World Series in 1981, the most classic of all matchups: Yankees versus Dodgers. I remember I cheered for the Dodgers after my mom told me that the Yankees usually win. Even at the age of six, I knew the Yankees were evil.
But by 1983, I had found my own team: The California Angels. I liked their players: Rod Carew and Reggie Jackson, but my favorite was, Doug DeCinces, The Angels third baseman. Sitting here, twenty-five years later and I still can’t define what attracted Doug DeCinces as my favorite player. I mean, Rod Carew and Reggie Jackson are both today in the Hall of Fame. I think today, Doug DeCinces is in sales somewhere in southern California.
But, when I met him that July night in 1986 in California, and I told him, “You are my all-time favorite player,” I have said, ‘I love you’ to girlfriends that have meant less.
Two years later and Doug DeCinces was out of baseball and it was time to find a new favorite player. That’s what I learned, after meeting your idol, you start looking around for the next one. I’m five favorite players down the line now since Doug, but you never forget your first.