Sometimes, however, they are gold. This was one of those golden times.
In March, I was contacted by Beckett Sports Card Monthly and asked if I could follow the winner of the Topps Make Your Pro Debut contest around, documenting his day in words and pictures. (The resulting story ran in the July, 2013 issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly.) An early shorter piece is here.
The winner’s prize was a day with the Corpus Christi Hooks – signing a contract, getting a uniform, working out with the team, and meeting team owner Nolan Ryan. I couldn’t say yes fast enough – I love baseball, and this sounded like a great assignment.
I met Tim, his son Peyton, and his wife Dani around 11 in the morning, and followed them through a tour of the park. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and the grin on his and his son’s face when he saw his jersey with his name on it was priceless.
After Tim got into his uniform, he started throwing with the team. This is when this assignment started really getting fun – I was asked by a Topps representative to photograph Tim for his baseball card.
Not a promotional gift thing – a real baseball card. The 2013 Topps Pro Debut Set will feature a card of Tim and Peyton with my photo.
After Peyton threw out the first pitch and presented the lineup card, he and Tim stayed in the dugout for the first three innings. Then, they moved up to sit in the owner’s box with Nolan Ryan.
The Nolan Ryan. The same guy my father and I had talked about for years – he was Dad’s favorite baseball player, and he always wanted a copy of Ryan’s rookie card (which he finally broke down and bought when I was in my late teens).
Now here I was in a room with the legend, listening to him tell stories about his favorite parks (Kansas City, Anaheim) and his least favorite (Cleveland, Candlestick), the hitters he liked to face (big power hitters like Reggie Jackson and Jim Rice) and least liked (slap hitters such as Tony Gwynn).
Head. Explodes. Again.
After Ryan left, Tim and Peyton headed back to the dugout, where they stayed for all of a 19-inning marathon. I had to head back home – I had to work at the day job early in the morning – but I left with a full notebook, a full memory card, and a smile on my face.