Annoying Autobiographical Pause: 1998 Home Run Race

8 06 2008

In 1998, my mother died after a battle with cancer that was intense. I don’t think she was ready to go but who really is.

And I fell into myself. I smiled at work, I went through the motions and I grieved harder than anyone can imagine. To think about that year, I honestly can say it was a blur. Food lost taste, I slept a lot because I was obviously depressed and I don’t think I’ve ever been through anything like that experience. I don’t want to go through it again, I can tell you that much.

And baseball saved me.

The chase to break Roger Maris’ home run record brought me back to life. Before congressional hearings and steroid use shamed Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, it was a joyous time for baseball. I became obsessed with it, watching the Cubs and the Cardinals with a fervor that I cannot explain. I was transfixed, planning my days to watch the teams to see what was going to happen next. Squirrel Queen and I would trek up to Busch Stadium and watch McGwire although I have to admit I never saw him hit a home run. Didn’t matter.

So yesterday I’m watching one of those shows that was focusing on the greatest moments in baseball which included Ozzie Smith hitting a home run and collectively clinching the world series (that wasn’t his forte) and Kirk Gibson serving Dennis Eckersley when he hit that famous home run that you’ve seen a million times.

And then it showed McGwire beating Maris’s record and the joy of that moment that included having Sammy Sosa meet him as he crossed home.

This is where I’m a baby. I’ve saw this event when it happened live and probably dozens of times since then, but yesterday I got all teary-eyed.

It’s amazing how things, when a person is as full as I am a bit right now, wash over you. Grief can hit you at anytime.

And it was that baseball season that helped me get through mine.

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