Long before he was the successful Los Angeles Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly’s baseball life bore the arc of unfulfilled expectations. A story about my childhood hero, originally published in Elysian Fields Quarterly in 2008 and later picked up by The Cauldron in 2015.
For years I operated under the assumption that I threw it out my old favorite baseball glove. I never once considered it an accident, that I simply lost track of it through moving houses and major life events. But when it suddenly reappeared, it proved me wrong about my own worst habits.
Parenting is a constant exercise in finding connections to your own past through your kids, but memory is an untrustworthy thing. Part of what we think we have in common may be nothing more than our kids choosing their own version of the story.
I tried to tout my son’s first baseball glove as a Big Deal. Frankly by the time we got to the store he was more excited about lunch at McDonald’s later, and somehow the day ended in tears.
First base is a position for aging veterans with bad backs and gimpy knees, the place to hide the worst fielders, the slowest runners, and the weakest arms. It’s the place for guys with enough offensive skills to command a place in the batting order but no place on the field. It’s also the only position I ever played.