It was a cold, bitterly cold, November morning in 2002. After many months of training, I sat, shivering, at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island awaiting the start of the New York City Marathon – my first such race. The feeling of anticipation and excitement was palpable. I was eager, and deathly afraid, to begin. I had never run 26.2 miles – not even in my training. I didn’t know what would happen to me on the streets of New York…
In short, what happened was that my life was changed. Radically and forever. It was on those streets of New York that I became a marathon runner. I became a champion. I became a warrior. I became something I hadn’t ever been before.
It’s not quite forty degrees here in New Jersey. It’s cold. Hand stinging cold. It’s the cold that makes your nose and ears hurt.
Did I mention it’s April? I think the fact that it’s actually spring makes the temperature outside that much colder.
At least the sun is out, though the day will remain in the low-40’s.
Yet, even with the (close to) frigid temperatures, I am excited, very excited, unbearably excited, to get outside this afternoon. Today is the Opening Day of our softball season.
I just love to play ball.
Sometimes we think we know the answers. Sometimes we are asked to tell the answers. Sometimes we think that we probably know everything.
But, many times we don’t know the answers.
And, often times the people we think we are telling the answers to actually have better knowledge than we do.
I’m just glad that sometimes (certainly not always), sometimes, I have the good sense to actually listen to those whom I am trying to teach.
A few months ago, I shared how people who I will never know might be impacted by the words I read from my basement in the early hours before school each day. I read a health report and share words of inspiration for a radio show in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania area.
As a high school kid, when I dreamed of being a radio announcer, I thought I’d be doing things a little differently than what I’m doing now. I also thought that if I was on the radio, I’d be talking about baseball – especially the Yankees.
“Is this Heaven?”
from Field of Dreams
There is a Heaven. I know it absolutely. I have been there.
Now, to be clear, I haven’t been to that Heaven, just one that, to me at least, might be awfully close.
There is a God. I also know this absolutely. God played a big role in making my trip to Heaven a reality.
A few years ago I traveled to the legendary Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa to have a catch with my dad. I have often shared the story of how that trip came to be. I wrote about it and have put it on both of my blogs. The story has been published as part the book Impossible is an Illusion. Titled “Is This?” it might be my most widely read piece (to date). Many people, including a number of prominent authors and, I’m pretty certain about this, the President of the Baseball Hall-of-Fame have read that story.
But, I have never told the story about what happened on those magical days in Iowa in 2016 with my dad and my mom. I shared all about our decision to go there, but I’ve never told the tale of the wonderful memories we created on a little baseball field in the middle of nowhere.
This, then, is that story…
I was a sophomore in high school, I believe. I had just alerted my parents that I needed to head back to the school that night to broadcast the school’s JV and Varsity basketball games on TV that night. I remember my mother, shocked, almost to speechlessness, uttering, “You’re going to do what?”
“I’m going to announce the basketball games on live TV,” I responded.
My mother had no doubt that I would be able to announce a game. She had listened to me announcing baseball games, real and imaginary, since I first started following the game. My voice was the voice of my childhood.
When I played my imaginary baseball games in the basement by throwing the ball against the wall, I also served as the play-by-play announcer.
The following passage come from my acclaimed book Impossible is an Illusion.
Alex Semendinger is a great kid. All the Semendinger boys are great kids. (Of course, I may be little biased in my assessment.)
Although Alex has many great attributes – he is kind, understanding, funny, smart, hard working, focused – as he grew up, organization was not one of them.
“Alex, is your room clean?” was an often-heard question in the Semendinger house. The follow-up answer, “Yes” also led to an interesting dynamic. Alex’s definition of clean, and my definition of clean, were not the same thing.
Growing up, Alex loved marbles. As marbles seemed to be a frequently gifted item, I believe there was a time when he possessed no fewer than 45,765 marbles. Alex’s collection contained marbles of various shapes, designs, and colors. Cats-eyes, agates, onionskins, alleys, solids, micas, and peppermint swirls, he had them all. It was an impressive array of marbles.
(This post was originally published on the Start Spreading the News Yankees blog.)
On Thursday night, SSTN writer Michael Saffer and I attended a live taping of Yankees Hot Stove at the Yogi Berra Museum in Montclair, New Jersey. It was a great event.
The theater/studio at the Yogi Berra is a great venue. It’s small and intimate. A person in the audience gets the sense that the presenters (in this case the Yankees Hot Stove Team) are actually talking with you – and at times they were.
Located in that studio is a replica Yankee Stadium scoreboard. (See the picture above.) Each time I attend an event at the Yogi Berra Museum, I wonder what game that scoreboard is supposed to reflect. As such, I decided that I would figure it out using the wonderful tools at BaseballReference.com, my Yankees knowledge, and some common sense.
I love to read.
Each year I keep track of all of the books that I read. My minimum goal is to read 24 books each year – or two per month. I was pleased that in 2017, I was able to exceed that goal by reading a grand total of 34 books. For a guy as active and busy as I am, that’s pretty good. I also don’t count my own books in that total. Any writer can share that they read their own drafts countless times as they write, revise, edit, again and again.
Now that 2017 is coming to a close, I’ll share the books I enjoyed the most this year with a quick note about each. This isn’t the complete list of the books I read, but the ones that struck me, for varied reasons, as the ones I enjoyed the most.