From Dr. Baker: Welcome author Rodney Curtis, a.k.a. The Spiritual Wanderer.
Here is Rodney’s third column …
I should be writing, working out, on the computer looking for jobs, engaging with my family or volunteering out in the community to make this world a better place. Instead, 162 times a year—give or take a few if I’m incapacitated or have read the schedule wrong—I’m checking in with the Detroit Tigers on TV, the radio or online.
In my first book, Spiritual Wanderer, I wrote a chapter about what the Tigers have meant to me throughout my life. I barely understood what was happening in 1968 as the Sock-it To ‘Em boys won the World Series and helped start the healing process in a Motor City that had been ripped by riots the previous year.
I loved them during their Bless You Boys 1984 run. They were unstoppable, beginning their year with a staggering 35-5 record. Part of my soul was bruised by their last-game-of-the-season loss to the Twins in ’87. I can still remember watching from the outfield seats of the old Tiger Stadium as TV cameras illuminated the Gatorade being dumped on Twins manager Tom Kelly.
It was a tough two decades after that. Then 2006 happened. The Tigers went all the way to The World Series.
Instead of Parrish we had Pudge (we also had Placido Polanco and Paws).
Back then, Tom Brookens patrolled the infield. Today, well, Tom Brookens—who looks like he hasn’t gained an ounce and could probably snag a hard liner—still coaches the offense from his box along third base.
Catcher Bill Freehan was my childhood idol and, as I’ve written before, I came literally inches away from shaking his hand until he yanked it back, not wanting to get pine tar all over my hand.
Incidentally, I am convinced my career as a major league catcher was in some small way hindered by my abject fear of round, speeding objects hurtling at me from 60 feet, 6 inches away.
It’s only a game. It’s only a pastime. There is no reason I should be so addicted to the Tigers, but some of my greatest joys in life have been tied to baseball. At least I’m not alone.
Three million fans are expected again to visit Comerica Park this year. And I take no small comfort in the lines from one of my favorite movies of all time (adapted from one of my favorite books of all time) Field Of Dreams. James Earl Jones says these wonderfully poetic words: “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.”
The Tigers made it to The World Series again last year, losing big time. Maybe when they win it all again, the game will lose its allure for me. Maybe that will get it out of my system. Even as I write that, I know it’s not likely. I know I’ll still sneak off to watch, listen or check up on my boys. Especially when we have Cabrera and Scherzer and Verlander and Fielder and …
What’s one of your guilty pleasures?
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