Back in June I shared my story of how I became a fan of Basketball and Baseball. Then in August I gave my father another shout out including a picture he carried in his wallet for the last 35 years of his life with the title of a journeyman this post about a minor leaguer who was called up by the Colorado Rockies.
Three weeks ago I turned 35. My parents were not here to celebrate with me in the flesh. As a result, it is time for me to pull them back into my life by talking about them in relation to my love of sports. So here goes!
With the NBA All Star game being tonight I start where my true sports fan blood started when I was approximately 5 years old. We were living in Mississippi because dad had been relocated there after accepting a promotion at work. Michael Jordan had already won two championships and Mom, being from Chicago, asked me if I was interested learning about sports. I asked her, “Will learning about sports be more fun than what I learn in school?” She said, “Yes, you would have fun playing sports.” After just a few days of reading about basketball history and how the game is played I went to mom and said, “I want to be Michael Jordan one day.”
Then in 1993 Michael won the third title after being drafted in 1984 before retiring the first time due to the betting scandal and signing with the White Sox to play baseball. That was very short lived for him and somewhat of an under the table deal with the king that wrote his checks Jerry Reinsdorf.
Being from Chicago’s Jeffery Manor on the south side of course asked me if I wanted to learn about baseball. I responded with, “Yes, basketball is fun. Baseball sounds fun too.” So, she got me two books. One about the Cubs and one about her White Sox. When she handed them to me she said, “You can root for both teams if you want. They don’t play each other though.”
That would of course only be a true statement until we returned to Chicago in late 1996 because in 1997 they faced each other for the first time in the regular season and they’ve faced each other every year since then. I loved mom and always will but she made the mistake of raising us in Lakeview two miles from Wrigley Field.
Fast forward to 1998 following the Bulls winning their sixth championship. I was 10 years old. My parents were had a business associate, and now very close family friend, who gave out free programs outside Wrigley Field. Not only did I help hand out the programs but he also took me to games after we handed them out. I fell in love with baseball because of the experiences. A few months later baseball season was ending and, of course, the Cubs were headed home for the winter.
It was time to start thinking about what I wanted for Christmas. I told mom get me whatever she could that related to sports. She asked, “Books? Movies? Please be more specific.” I said, “Surprise me.” Two months later on Christmas Day were sitting around the tree opening gifts and my sister handed my first gift to me. It was not very heavy and felt like it could be books. Sure enough it was! It was Jordan’s autobiography “For The Love Of The Game”.
Getting this for me for Christmas was dad’s idea. He was starting to motivate me in different ways and because I had fallen in love with sports he was trying to motivate me to play basketball or baseball.
Mom always said she would work until the day she died. That did not happen, at least not in the capacity of how she meant it. That said, in mom’s memory this book will die with me. I will always have it in valuables. Thank you mom!
On that note, it is also worth mentioning that MJ turned 60 on Friday and while this is mostly a personal post about my parents it is also meant to be a Happy Birthday post to the most legendary star in Chicago sports history. Happy Birthday Michael!
If you cannot play with them, root for them!