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On my desk, there’s a regulation major league baseball in the glass case. The reason why the ball is there is the most important reason of all.
However, to understand the reason why the ball is there, we first have to know how the ball arrived in my desk. In order to know how the ball arrived, we must recognize who brought the ball to my desk, and moreover, when the ball appeared on my desk where it currently sits.
Full disclosure before we go any further; I am a hopeful New York Mets fan. I know that’s not what you expected to hear. Sure, I grew up in the Tri State area, so its’ not all that shocking that I would root for New York’s national league team. Instead, you were no doubt surprised you to learn that I am not the stereotypical hopeless New York Mets fan.
In fact, it’s sad to know that is first thing people think of when I tell them that I’m a Mets fan. In reality, rooting for the New York Metropolitans helped me hone two of my finest qualities, and those are humility and patience. Over the years, I learned to look through the muck of the current day and know that hope, like a distant star, is still there. It will flash, and when it does, the muck will melt away.
But I digress. The point is that I still carry hope for my team, year in and year out, despite our championship drought. If I didn’t carry that hope, I would have removed all remnants of the wretched sport of baseball from my working space tout suite. That would, of course, include the ball, which we all know, is still on my desk to this day
Back to the Ball
The ball arrived on what started as a lackluster day in May of 2015. At that point, baseball conversation was easy for me in LA for three reasons. First, both the Dodgers and the Mets showed great promise (as do a number of teams each year in the month of May). Second, the Dodgers and Mets were in the midst of a tumultuous relationship that included a gritty NLDS in 2006. That gave Dodgers and Mets fanatics something to talk about when they weren’t screaming and hurling objects at one another. The third, and final reason for the readily available ball banter was due to the fact that my company was fortunate enough to provide able bodies for the Dodgers’ six game homes against both the San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves. The later, of course, proved to be invaluable because, as they old saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
On most days, my conversant of choice was one of our employees. For the sake of this telling, we’ll call him Matt. Matt was an ardent Dodgers fan, and he liked to remind me of that fact whenever he came to visit my office, which I decorated with several Mets branded items. But Matt’s visit on Wednesday May 27th proved to be an exception.
Matt strolled in mid-day and extended his hand. “Here,” he said. “I got this for you.”
Sure enough, it was a ball. At a glance I knew two things about that ball. One thing was the fact that it was a game ball and the other was the fact that it was used.
When I pressed Matt for more information, I learned that the ball was none other than the same one hit by Dodgers’ third baseman, Justin Turner, off of Braves relief pitcher, Eric Stults, in the middle of the fifth inning the night before.
As it turned out, Matt worked at the ballpark on that same night. At the end of his shift, Matt cleaned his workstation, closed shop, and exited through the employee tunnel entrance to the stadium. On this way out, he ran into Dodgers’ third baseman Justin Turner. Turner, who was known to be gracious with his fans, shook Matt’s hand, thanked him for his support… and turned the ball over to him.
Less than 24 hours after that game, Matt came to office, and presented the ball to me.
I refused. I knew how much Matt loved his team, and I tried to put together an eloquent way of saying, “Thank you, but I can’t.” Needless to say, Matt’s wit was sharper than mine. He placed the ball on my desk and said, “I want to give this to you. If you didn’t give me this job, I would have never been there in the first place.”
I won’t tell you that I accepted. I won’t tell you that I said anything at all, and I’m pretty sure that I didn’t. Instead, I rose to my feet and shook Matt’s hand. He nodded, said, “Go Dodgers,” and left my office.
And There It Sits...
In the end, I kept the ball for three reasons. After all, Justin Turner was a product of the Mets farm system before he got buried in the underwriting of a New York / Los Angeles trade. Also, the ball was hit off a Braves' pitcher, which would make me chuckle in the months ahead. But the third reason, which was the most important reason of all, is because I saw that star flash.
So, I caught that flash, put it into a glass case, and kept it on my desk. Today is a good day for Red Sox Fans. It’s still a good day for Dodger fans. Never forget that it’s a long season, and that every day is a new day.