#TBT I was at my parents’ house a few years ago and my mother handed me an envelope containing this frayed newspaper clipping detailing a highlight of my athletic career. She likely saved it because there were so few “glory days” in my sporting life that she wanted to keep a tangible record of each of them. I was a high school freshman in Farmington, Maine, when I recorded a game-winning, walk-off single that kept our unblemished record alive en route to the district baseball championship. Funny, I hadn’t thought about it in years. But when I saw the clipping, the memories of that time came flooding back so clearly.
Two outs. Bottom of the last inning. Score tied. First baseman Bill Hodgkins standing on third. I’m in the on-deck circle getting ready to walk to the plate. Our outstanding coach, the now-deceased Red Dean, comes up to me, puts an arm on my shoulder, looks me square in the eye and says, “You’re gonna win this for us.” Picture Gene Hackman in “Hoosiers” telling Ollie “and you WILL make the second one.”
As I walked to the batter’s box, I looked out over the chain link fence to the left-field parking lot. And I saw my dad’s car pull in. He was president of Farmington State College and it wasn’t easy for him to get away in the middle of the afternoon to come see a baseball game. But he had come as soon as he could. I’m not sure now what the count was when I saw a knee-high pitch coming over the inside half of the plate, but I put a nice smooth swing on it and saw the ball lift over the short stop’s head and land about 30 feet in front of the left fielder, who had no chance of throwing Bill out at the plate. It wasn’t a solid hit; I caught it on the handle. But it was enough. And what a feeling! My teammates—mostly seniors and juniors—were patting me on the back and jumping up and down with me. Coach Dean was right there with them.
And as the excitement was starting to fade, I had just one thought: I wish I could’ve seen Dad in the car when the ball made it out of the infield. I never asked him about it, but I KNOW he was sitting there alone in his car, clapping as loud as he could . . . banging the steering wheel with his hands and yelling at the top of his lungs, “Atta Boy! Atta Boy!” God bless Mom for saving that yellowed clipping. And God bless Dad for being a part of such a great memory. Parents, save those clippings.