By Chas Brailey aka LegendaryVintage

I suppose that a contest entry should be something catchy, savvy, and appealing to all readers. My entry is probably none of these things, at least to many readers but to someone, somewhere, this story will ring a bell in their own mind and will also make them remember.

I was born in 1981 in Covington, GA which is just a hop and a skip from Atlanta. In 1991 at the ripe age of 10, I attended my first baseball game. I went to see the Atlanta Braves play the Houston Astros. It was immediately apparent to my uncle ( who took me to the game ) that my love for the game was going to be something deep. I was glued to every play, I could smell the different foods, I could hear the fans shouting, and I could see them smiling. I was only 10, but I can’t forget the enjoyment that day brought to my life. At that time, I couldn’t really explain why I loved baseball so much and even today it would have been hard for me to explain if not for a special occasion I had with my daughter.

My daughter is sort of a tom cat. She likes climbing trees, throwing rocks, making mud pies, and she really loves sports ( baseball most of all ). I consider her my collecting buddy as she knows more about sports than most men in their 30s. We attend card shows, conventions, and many things of the sort whenever it is driving distance from us and it was just a few months back that I learned a lesson from my daughter ( and I’ve learned plenty from her ). We were at a show in which a few old legends were attending ( the only one that matters is Steve Carlton ). We had purchased a ticket to get him to sign a baseball and I was thrilled to be able to meet the pitching legend. There were signs everywhere ” No ticket, No autograph ” and other signs that said ” Do not ask players to sign an item unless you have a ticket “. Well we were at nearly the end of the line for Steve Carlton and when I made it up to the table he signed my ball and I moved on, but before I could get my daughters hand and continue my journey through the convention, she said to Steve Carlton, ” Hey, can I ask you a question? ” He smiled and said sure.

She looked at him square in the eyes and said ” Why do you charge people for your autograph?” and Carlton sorta grinned and said ” Well, it is kind of hard to explain and I don’t think you would understand “. As I tried to tug my daughter away, she said to him ” I bet I already know the answer, I bet you charge people for autographs because you know most of them are just going to turn around and sell them.” At this point, I let go of her hand and decided to back off and let her take on Steve Carlton. After all, I knew Carlton had met his match. He said ” Well……, yes It has become to much a business but it wasn’t always like this and to be honest I wish it weren’t like this”. At this moment I saw Steve Carlton sorta gaze up as if he was thinking, and he looked at my daughter and said, “I remember back when I was a player, I loved baseball, I loved the smell of the grass, I loved to hear the cheers, and I loved the fans” and do you know what else I loved to do?” My daughter said ” what did you love to do “? he replied ” I loved to sign autographs ” He reached down on the table and picked up a Phillies post card and wrote my daughter a note on the back which reads ” To Brooke, Thanks so much for helping me remember how much I really love this game” Love, Steve Carlton Romans 10:9

She reminded Carlton of how he felt back in the 60s and 70s but she also reminded me of how I felt in the 90s. I too had remembered why I love baseball so much. I love it because it is about so many things.

IT IS ABOUT TEAMWORK! IT IS ABOUT COMPETITION! IT IS ABOUT SPORTSMANSHIP! IT IS ABOUT FAMILY! IT IS ABOUT HARD WORK! IT IS ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT AMERICA WAS FOUNDED ON!