That was the worst thing about growing up a sports fan at 24 Emerald Lane in Mahopac, N.Y. My mom could not care less about sports. My dad could not care less about sports. My brother could not care less about sports.
Me? I cared. Boy, did I care. My walls were lined with one poster after another—Rickey Henderson next to Wesley Walker next to George Foster next to Bernard King. My closets were stuffed—stuffed!—with baseball cards, 30 ... 40 together, rubber-banded in ways that left Mario Soto and Dan Pasqua positioned in the most awkward of poses. Dozens of baseball caps lined up neatly behind my bed.
But nobody cared.
Then, one day, my dad asked if I had any interest in going to a Yankee game. It was 1985 and Rich Green, one of his employees at Herz Stewart & Co., had an extra ticket. "You guys both love baseball," Dad said. "He wants to take you."
I still remember walking into the stadium that first time. We sat along the third base line, and my posters had come to life. There was Ken Griffey, Sr., his hat tipped high atop the front of his Afro, stretching calves the size of large dogs. There was Henderson, the great base stealer, twitching his fingers into white batting gloves. There was Henry Cotto, uhm, well, yeah. Henry Cotto. The grass was as green as a 7-Up label, Bob Sheppherd's voice even more God-like then the one I'd heard on TV all those times. My seat was made of a hard blue plastic, and as the innings passed I must have bounced up and down upon it, oh, 500 times. Like Victor Mata, I was just happy to be there.
I've been told a game was even played that day. I recall little of it, only that Dave Winfield made an amazing leaping catch into the rightfield stands and that Butch Wynegar started at catcher. Doesn't matter, though. What sticks with me is the magic of the day; the feeling of walking into a building and knowing love.