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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Memory, Reality, and Derek Jeter

This article isn’t really about Jeter, it’s more about the things that we think we remember:

It’s Opening Day and I’m 10 years old.

I’m stuffed in the third-row seat of a brand new ‘96 Dodge Grand Caravan on the way to my grandparents’ house. The Yankees are on the radio. It’s the top of the fifth and I want to get where we’re going so I can watch the rest of the game on TV. This season, of course, is like no other — at least for me, anyway. We actually made the playoffs last year, the first time that had happened during my lifetime. I can sense it now, though. This sport, the sport I’ve been in love with since the first time I got a whiff of the inside of a pack of Topps, is about to present me with something new. Something beyond all of the things — the aesthetics and the statistics and the sound at the Stadium when the Yankees take the field — that already have their hooks in me.

And that something is about to have a name and a face pinned onto it that no amount of grumbling or tabloid fodder or cool-headed statistical analysis will ever be able to fully disaggregate from it.

Up steps a shortstop whose name and face I know from his call-up the previous September and from the four 1992 #1 Draft Pick cards at the front of my baseball card binder. “Take care of these,” Dad had said. He lines the ball to deep left and Sterling gives it the “high….far…gone!” treatment. It’s his first career homer. He’s not much older than me, really, and that’s a problem, because he plays my position and some quick math tells me that by the time I’m ready to break into the Bigs, he’ll still be in his early 30s. Granted, I’m not even the best kid on my Little League team, but I’m getting better and as long as Spike Owen and Alvaro Espinoza and Mike Gallego are the level of my competition, it’s doable, right? Crazier things have happened.

But THIS guy? No.2? This is going to be a major problem.


Here’s the thing: I remember this scenario vivdly. I remember it just as I wrote it. That precise sequence of images and thoughts centered around that first Derek Jeter home run is the origin story of my own private adulthood — the moment I realized I had to put aside childish things —at least according to what my internal monologue has been telling me for going on two decades.

The problem? It’s wrong. Completely, utterly, provably wrong.

Mike Emeigh Posted: September 25, 2014 at 07:29 PM | 100 comment(s)
  Beats: derek jeter, fandom, yankees

 

 

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