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Passing on the love of the game

By By Todd Thompson, Hartselle Enquirer
My dad has a funny way of telling the story of how he once met Mickey Mantle in the airport in New York City once.
It’s really not a funny story. Just a little tale of a chance meeting with one of the legends of baseball, from a time when legends possessed God-given talent, not something from a bottle.
This story is only funny because it hasn’t changed much from the first time I heard it years ago.
But for some reason, the 250th time I heard the story brought a smile to my face. I guess some things do get better with age, even the smallest little tale of a brush with fame.
Ironically, that story may have had some influence on my choice of profession.
When it became time to go to college, I knew that I wanted to work around sports in some capacity.
Funny, he was right. The pay is low, the hours are brutal. That’s just the nature of the business.
But this thing is in my blood. I can’t imagine doing anything different.
Growing up, we often went to see American Legion baseball games while on vacation. Can you imagine being on a trip to the beach and spending a couple of nights watching high school kids play summer baseball?
A trip to a major league baseball game was a once-a-year trip and my dad always bought a scorecard to keep track of the game.
Someone once asked me if I knew how to keep a scorebook and it seemed like a silly question. I had learned from watching my dad each year at a Detroit Tigers game.
Even a trip to see a team as bad as Detroit was in the late ‘70s was a blessing.
Once a year, I got to go to a college football game - usually Michigan State against Iowa, in the days when the Hawkeyes were just plain miserable.
But, hey, it was college football and that was the best. Even now, I love to spend a Saturday at a college game regardless of the division.
If there was a lesson to be learned, maybe that was it. Winning and losing is overrated. It’s the game that’s so special.
I hope I can pass that on to my son.
Thanks Dad.
Sports editor Todd Thompson can be reached at 773-6566 or by email at todd.thompson@hartselleenquirer.com

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