I started following baseball before kindergarten.
So when I consider exhibits from the Hall of Fame and Museum that cover my lifetime, yes, I must include the striking photograph of great Pittsburgh Pirate and humanitarian Roberto Clemente.
He had 3,000 hits, sure. Of greater importance, the native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972 while delivering relief supplies to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua. He was only 38. I bowed to his photo and plaque.
I smiled widely at the exhibit for Hank Aaron, the man who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.
A replica of the great hitter’s locker allowed me to hang my jacket and pose for a photo taken by my dear wife Karen. I thought of the night I watched on TV as he circled the bases after his record-breaking homer, met by several fans between second and third base. Mostly silly then, but still … Now something like that would be much scarier.
Baseball has had its range of moments during my 59 years.
The San Diego Chicken made mascots extremely colorful.
A labor war brought the game to a halt.
Performance enhancing drugs, with denials, positive tests, tears and punishment, made and asterisk out of the record book and a mess out of many reputations.
Pete Rose’s betting expose placed him in the role of pariah.
And still this game played with 90 feet between the bases and 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitching rubber to home plate gets my full attention this time every year.
Tomorrow: My New York Mets are everywhere in the Hall
What is your most memorable moment of baseball in your lifetime, and why? Which is your favorite photo, and why?