Baseball is my job. Baseball is a game. Baseball is a business. All of this is true. All of this is my life. Baseball is also, as it is for many of you, much more than that.
My grandmother has had terminal cancer for two years. She’s in the hospital right now, and we are figuring out what the plan will be going forward. Saying this sucks is beyond an understatement.
My grandmother is an artist, and I was fortunate enough to grow up close to her before she moved to California on the opposite coast. She came from Boston and had an insane life that crossed paths with Andy Warhol, Whitey Bulger, Ted Williams, and countless others. She bought and sold autographs long before I was born. When I was digging around her art studio in Boca Raton I found signed letters Franklin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, and Michael Faraday, all three of which I own to this day.
Like everything on both sides of my family, baseball was prevalent. My great aunt on my dad’s side went on a date with Lou Gehrig, but was forbidden from seeing him again because he wasn’t Jewish. My great uncle golfed with Babe Ruth. My grandmother had her times with the ‘40s and ‘50s Red Sox clubs.
With her coming from Boston near the Southie projects, I would always hear about the old-time Red Sox. Dropo, Doerr, Foxx, Pesky, and of course Ted Williams. I knew who Williams was before I could name the president. I vividly recall my grandmother having me for a weekend when I was very young and taking me to a baseball card store, where we found a 1951 Bowman Ted Williams. I wanted it more than Bart and Millhouse wanted Radioactive man no. 1. My grandmother at that point was "well off," but she did not buy it for me. For months we saved pennies, wrapping them up in tin foil stacks until we had enough to pay for it. By the time we arrived it was gone.
This past season in Tampa Bay I got to go to the Ted Williams museum at Tropicana Field. It’s kind of hidden in the bowels of the stadium but man what a great place. I got to take so many rare photos and send them to my grandmother, who still thinks Ted Williams was the most gorgeous man (and best ballplayer) ever. I never liked the Red Sox much, but when I was young I met him at an autograph signing and told him about my grandmother. He was surly and old, but I got his autograph and offered it to my grandmother. She didn’t want it. She had her memories.
If there has been one regret it’s that I never attended a baseball game with her. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on the phone talking art, philosophy, politics, and work with her, but we never went to a game. She watched me play Little League but she hasn’t yet seen me on the field doing my job. She has, however seen me work on the phone in her house for hours on end. This past October while visiting her I finished Jim Miller’s contract with Milwaukee in her house. She let me and Philippe Valiquette stay at her house. She let me and Darren Ford stay there, too. She always rooted for my clients and took an interest in my career, even though she was suspicious of the business.
Up until a few months ago she was still going to the gym every day, working out with Kenny Lofton who is only a couple degrees of separation from Michael Brantley. I remember her always telling Kenny that her grandson worked for Brantley, and according to her he never paid attention. We still talk baseball, but not as much. It’s all about health, movies and art now.
You're never ready to let go, and I loathe the day that it happens, but everything becomes a memory. Take advantage of the time you have. Appreciate your family, and realize work is work but your family is your family.
To this day I do not own that 1951 Bowman Ted Williams card. I probably never will; buying it on eBay just wouldn’t feel right. If anything I’d like to buy it with a stack of pennies one day.
Res Ipsa Loquitor
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