It was bound to happen sometime: I have officially collected too many baseballs, and now I’ve run out of space.
Most of the balls are in my old–but newly renovated–childhood bedroom at my parents’ place.
I posted this pic once before. Here it is again to refresh your memory. Normally, all the balls are in the drawers, and all the drawers are closed, and all the barrels are covered.
My parents would like me to move the barrels downstairs to a basement locker. I’d rather keep them where they are.
My parents live on the 10th floor in an apartment building in Manhattan. Yes, there’s an elevator, but each barrel holds 400 balls and weighs about 135 pounds. That’s a lot of schlepping. Still, that’s not even the issue. What it comes down to is that the basement is dark and creepy and filthy–like a murder scene from some mafia movie–with century-old steam pipes that look like they’re gonna spew asbestos and floor-to-ceiling cages stuffed with relics of people’s forgotten pasts. I don’t want my baseballs to be forgotten. As it is, I miss my childhood–and the bedroom that housed it. My 100,000 baseball cards have been packed up. My autographs are in storage. The newspaper clippings on the bulletin board are gone. Everything’s been repainted. New furniture. New lighting. Other than the queen-sized bed and a black desk, it’s an empty shell of my old life. The only thing unique to me that remains is the baseballs. Lots of baseballs. Over 2,400 baseballs. And when I finally get around to bringing over the ones I caught this season, there will be 2,752 baseballs.
I don’t go over to my parents’ place THAT often, but when I do, I always visit my old room and check out the balls. At family gatherings, people often want to see the balls. Occasionally, I’ll make a special trip with a friend who wants to have a look. I don’t want to have to take my friends into the creepy basement storage area and turn on the lights…and unlock that flimsy chain…and tiptoe into the locker…and remove a heavy sheet of sooty protective plastic. It makes me sad just to think about it.
But this IS my parents’ place. They’re the ones who live there, and they’d like to fully redecorate my old room and turn it into a cozy space for overnight guests–not that there are that many, but still. They have a right.
I recently conceded and said I’d move the balls to the basement.
Then my parents conceded and said I didn’t have to…yet.
Now what? I can’t decide. But one thing I do know is that I’m keeping the balls. I’m not selling them. I’m not using them. I’m not donating them. Someday, I will have kids, and those kids will see the balls. Period. (They’ll probably turn out to be Star Trek geeks who don’t give a ****. Serves me right.) What happens between now and then has yet to be determined.
For what it’s worth, here’s what the room normally looks like, when the balls are NOT on display:
Yesterday, my friend Paige took me to Madison Square Garden for my third lifetime NHL game.
I had told her I really wanted a puck, so we got there in time for warmups–but she warned me that pucks are tough and that I shouldn’t assume I’d get one.
But she was right. It wasn’t a puck-rich environment. The entire warmup session lasted just 15 minutes, and the players were busy warming up–what a concept!–as opposed to all the standing around and interacting that takes place during batting practice.
We were on the Devils’ side because, to put it lightly, Paige is frighteningly obsessed with the Devils. Fine by me. There were fewer fans, and anyway, it’s not like I was there to see the Rangers. I couldn’t even name anyone on the Rangers…except Jagr, whose first name I still can’t spell. I knew a couple guys on the Devils just from hearing Paige talk about them, and she helped me identify the rest as they skated by.
It’s funny. For several days, I knew I’d be going to this game, and for several days, I’d been fantasizing about getting a puck–and yet I did nothing to increase my chances. I didn’t buy a Devils hat or even print their roster, basic strategies for baseball games that certainly would’ve helped here. Because I didn’t look around and study the nooks and crannies, some other guy was able to come from behind me and snatch a puck that got caught in the protective netting right above the plexi-glass.
That really pissed me off, so I started shouting at every player for a puck. No way I was gonna get shut out after wasting such an easy opportunity.
Of course, Paige first had to identify them for me.
“What’s Pandolfo’s first name?!”
“What about Ahonen?!”
“Scott!!!” I shouted before he had a chance to skate away. “Can I have a puck?!”
I felt like an idiot asking for pucks because I was the only one asking, and the players weren’t responding. This was the first time I’d ever been to warmups. I didn’t know what was appropriate, or if the players even gave pucks away, but Paige was encouraging me. In this case, however, a loose puck happened to slide over to Gomez just as I’d made my request. He grabbed it and turned around and flipped it over the glass right to me–my first NHL puck!
It was wet and ice cold. That shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was. The logo was partially worn off, but Paige and I were able to make out most of the lettering, starting with “OFFICIAL PRACTICE PUCK” at the top. I was absolutely psyched.
Warmups ended a few minutes later, and Paige led the way to our “limited view” seats in the top deck, limited because we had to lean all the way forward to see over the railing in the front row.
I had a million questions, mostly about the rules, and Paige answered them all. The game was totally entertaining, at least for me. Unfortunately for Paige, the Devils lost, 3-2, on a sudden death shootout. (Such violence.)
• CPP = 27.00
• 3 lifetime games
• 1 puck
• 0.33 pucks per game
• 1 consecutive game with at least 1 puck
• 1 total puck moves me ahead of some schmo and into 10,000th place on the all-time goals list.
I’m on my way…