Monday, July 7, 2014

Maury Wills & The Sandlot

The 2010 MLB All-Star game in Anaheim, CA was only 20 minutes from my house in Orange County. I volunteered to work the MLB All-Star fan fest for multiple reasons, but one was the week pass at the event. I worked every morning shift that week which gave me the chance to be done at noon and in line for the Hall of Fame players who came to sign autographs at 1pm.  Some of the greatest players of the last 50 years showed up and I got about half of them with my strategic planning.

The balls that I got autographed were old and warn baseballs that I had used through my playing days. They were the good ones. The ones rubbed well with fully intact seams. Ones that were always the favorite to pick out of a bag. To me an autograph has more personal value if it was a baseball I used in practice, at a park with friends, or playing catch with my dad. A Hall of Famer is signing it for you...on your ball. It should not be on Ebay.

My favorite moment came from a Dodger great, Maury Wills. A warm smile when you walked up to him made any fan feel comfortable.  I gave him a baseball that was sandy brown with some tenured seams. He looked at me, looked at the ball, looked back at me and jokingly said with a smirk, "This looks like something out of the Sandlot."

It made the little kid in me become overjoyed with happiness. Sandlot is my all time favorite movie. The movie was set in Los Angeles during the summer of 1962; the same year Maury Wills broke Ty Cobb's stolen base record with 104 and won the MVP, Gold Glove, and the All-Star Game MVP. In the movie, the first scene of Scotty Smalls as a kid is him unpacking the family moving trailer. As his older self narrates his younger self for the fist time, he recites:

"I moved to the neighborhood about two weeks before school let out. It was the same summer that Dodgers' Maury Wills would break the stolen base record. So with something that incredible going on, it should've started out with loads of great things happening for me...but it didn't. I was from a different state and I didn't have a friend for 1,000 miles. It was a lousy way to end the 5th grade."

I got the ball from him, said thank you, shook his hand, and was on my way...I left with a grin that lasted the rest of the week. This is one of the millions of things that makes baseball so great.
Below you can see my mini Hall with Maury on the bottom row.