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An email about the Baseball Prospectus event in Kansas City inspires the Professor to plan an encounter with a legend.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Joe Hamrahi, our beloved leader and spiritual advisor at Baseball Prospectus, in which he outlined the details of the All-Star event in Kansas City that I was scheduled to attend. As usual, I read the email like a hyperactive kid who had just snorted a baby arm of FunDip, which is to say I opened it and recognized a few words and immediately started dreaming of a better life, when I happened upon the name of Willie Mays and the word “brunch.” Apparently, the Baseball Prospectus gathering would be taking place at the theater across the street from the Negro Leagues museum, which had scheduled an event involving all seven living Negro League players who had become major-league all-stars. A private brunch was to be held that morning with the distinguished guests. At the top of the guest list was Willie Howard Mays, Jr.

Instead of spending quality time with the email and forming a relationship with the proper context, I drifted off into a romantic fantasy in which my Sunday morning would be spent with Willie Mays, sharing stories and slamming mimosas. We would fast become tethered by an unbreakable bond; our friendship dance would be aesthetically pleasing to the blind. The Futures Game had previously occupied the role of apple of my eye, but I no longer cared about minor-league baseball or the participants in such an event. Two weeks ago, my heart belonged to Willie Mays and the brunch we would consume in a shared space. As per normal, I scripted the event to the letter and the line, and I felt comforted by the familiarity of the teleprompter I placed a few feet from my scene. I entered my own head and started spelunking for the memories I would no doubt come to appreciate after they matured into adulthood. It all started with an iPhone alarm puffing out its chest at 8:02 AM on Sunday, July 7th.

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