Friday, January 18, 2013
2013 Topps Baseball Release Countdown #13
1954 Topps #13 Billy Martin
I used to have a baseball that accompanied me on our annual family vacation. It had seen many miles and a few different ballparks- carried with the hopes of meeting someone I recognized from one of my many baseball cards.
There were the trips to Seattle, to see the still young Mariners, as well as San Francisco. Anaheim, and San Diego. It even made its way to Dodger Stadium- although our seats in the nosebleed section didn't allow for an opportunity to collect a signature.
I was, however, able to collect a handful of signatures over the years. Three of the names elude me (I no longer have the ball)- but two names still stand out: Bill North and Billy Martin.
It was 1982- the summer of my thirteen birthday (one week after it, as a matter of fact)- and we were in Seattle for a rare treat: professional baseball and professional football. The A's were in town, followed by the St. Louis Cardinals/Seattle Seahawks exhibition game.
I only remember that it was before the game, and I was standing along the third-base line railing. As I saw the legendary manager approach us, I felt a little apprehensive. He was, after all, the man I was familiar with from his days as the zookeeper in New York. The yelling, the veins bulging out of his neck as he argued with umpires, and having to be restrained from attacking his star player on national television. The scariest thing about him: he sported that mustache and had those beady eyes. Oh yes, the end of his nose- all of those features reminded me of a rat. And I've always been afraid of rodents.
To my surprise, however, he didn't yell at me, didn't kick dirt my way- didn't even look at me with those beady eyes. He merely signed his name and handed me my ball back.
I guess I felt as if I got off lucky. The man who seemed borderline lunatic and was in the midst of his worst season as a manager, and I walked away without him even noticing me.