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First love and the Hall of Fame

When most girls think about their first love, they generally remember a high school relationship that they thought would surely last forever. Some boy coming in and sweeping her off her feet, thinking this would be one of the most influential relationships of her life. You love (what you think) the most. You hurt the most. You learn the most. A lot of times, that's true. I think every girl I know can relate.

My first love was baseball. Some of my best childhood memories were spent in the orange, red and yellow rainbow seats of the Astrodome. I remember being at one of Randy Johnson's first/only games as an Astro. I remember my brother and Jose Lima's funny little Rally Hat thing. I remember late weekday games and going to school the next day exhausted. My first crush was Jeff Bagwell. I remember how nice Craig Biggio was to me when I saw him at my brother's baseball tournament watching his own kids play. I remember sobbing on my college apartment floor during both Bagwell and Biggio's retirement ceremonies. I wanted to have our rehearsal dinner at Minute Maid park. Heck, I wanted to get married in the dugout.

All in all, my love for baseball hasn't wavered.

By the time I started playing softball at the age of 12, most girls my age had been playing for 7 years. Quickly, I found out that I was pretty decent. I was at the right place, at the right time, when one of the most special men in my life saw me playing catch with my dad. He asked me to play on his select ball team and I flipped! Not only did I start every inning of my first select ball tournament, but we won the whole dang thing! I think I still have that newspaper article somewhere.

I can realistically say that, out of 52 weekends a year, I played 45. Most of my teammates complained about playing another tournament after playing four weekends straight. Not me. I LOVED it. I loved the two broken wrists, four broken noses, numerous concussions, slamming into a fence-or a massive catcher. I loved everything.

I was blessed to be able to wear a college softball jersey, even if it was just for a year. I got to experience something not even a quarter of the girls I played with as kids got to, even at a Division III level. It is really one of the things I'm most proud of. 6am workouts, four hour practices, bear crawls on the worst smelling football field in America, long van rides and lifelong friendships.

Unfortunately, I arrived at college somewhat hurt and all the wear and tear put an expiration date on my dream of playing college softball. But for one season, I won a starting left field spot in the fall and had the best 8 months of my life.

I ended up having career ending shoulder surgery in February of my freshman year. My surgeon said I could keep playing, but would find myself in the exact same place in a very short time, needing another surgery. I was devastated. Think biggest heart break a boy ever gave you, but multiplied by 10 because you made the decision to end it. I decided it was more important to end it while I still loved it before my shoulder got worse and I ended up hating the game for hurting me so badly. It was more important for me to (fingers crossed) be able to play catch with my kids someday than it was for me to play all four years of college softball.

Fast forward to just yesterday. Yesterday was the day we would find out if my two biggest heroes would enter the Baseball Hall of Fame. You can't think of the Astros without thinking of Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. It's utterly impossible. Next to Nolan Ryan, number's 5 and 7 are hands down the best baseball players to come through our ball club. This would be Jeff's third run at the HoF, Craig's first and every Astro's fan or baseball fanatic knew that these two, together for most of their careers at 1st and 2nd base would go in together. They had to! Both have HoF worthy stats seperately, but one's aren't near as impeccable without the other.

Some of my less-enthused friends might find this ridiculous and over dramatic, but when I saw that neither of them had the 75% of votes for entry, my heart sank. These two had the best odds since most of the other nominees were in the performance enhancing drug era, especially Craig. Now, I know people say "look at Bagwell when he started, blah blah blah". I get it, he's substantially larger than one would expect him to be. However. He's a first baseman. Even when he was smaller, he's always been built stockier than someone else his height. AND most importantly, there is ZERO evidence that he used any kind of illegal substances. Unlike his nominated counterparts Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa. Not even comparable.

I'm really starting to see that the HoF is a joke. There's no reason Pete Rose shouldn't be in already, as a player. 5 and 7 should be shoe-in's with their career accomplishments, but they aren't. Curt Shilling didn't even get in!

I just pray that when I take my kids to see Cooperstown one day, Biggio and Bagwell will have their plaques and busts right next to each other and I can tell them how these two baseball players, people I never personally knew, almost single handedly shaped my childhood.









Comments

  1. I have no idea why, but this brought me to tears! I'm such a girly girl, so I don't have this feeling about baseball, but I do about cheerleading and hope that one day if God blesses us with a little girl that is something I can share with her. I can relate to your passion. I did grow up with these Astro's being a Houstonian born & raised, and agree they got robbed. What a shame.

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