What a fantastic moment it is for every baseball fan to witness great players in time accomplish monumental feats that cement their place in baseball history.
For most of us, we grew old with these players. We worked nine-to-five jobs and always relied on baseball as an entertainment outlet; a sport we were so familiar with and loved growing up.
Every few years, we see a great accomplishment with a star player hitting one of the major milestones. Whether they were one of our personal favorites over the span of their career or not, it’s a respect factor that comes into play. We remember some of their greatest moments and accomplishments from when they were a skinny rookie, through their prime and then into the twilight of their career.
I always think about my own life and what has happened during the same time span, like the greatness of graduating college, getting married, having children, watching them grow and job promotions.
Then there is also the sorrow like losing family members, heartache over getting divorced, losing a job and several other tough times that make reflecting difficult.
When I watched Randy Johnson win his 300th game Thursday, I was very happy for him. I never knew him personally and I never knew too much about his personal life because I don’t really care about that stuff. He entertained and wowed me just about every time I watched him on the mound or read his box score the next day.
When thinking about some of his greatest accomplishments through time, I reflected on my own; it was like a portrait of my own life and growth.
I’ve seen my childhood favorites like Willie Stargell, Reggie Jackson and Carl Yastrzemski be gone for some time now, which signaled somewhat of an end to my childhood years and the start of an another era of players. When I was 18, Johnson made his debut with the Montreal Expos, and it’s amazing that I can remember exactly what I was doing at the time.
I remember the freak 6’10” lanky left-hander who threw the ball extremely hard, but had control problems. At the same time, I was entering college and working three separate odd jobs to pay for it. It was a tough time, but it made me better. My real world began when at the same time Johnson was just starting what would be his own remarkable run.
Here it is 21 years later, and as I feel like I have been through it all in real life, one of my entertainment stars has just accomplished a feat that only 23 other pitchers have done in the history of the game. I feel proud for him, like many other fans, and feel like I was there for the long haul with him.
Randy Johnson and baseball has been the one thing over that span that has always been consistent in my life. I always got exactly out of it what I wanted. It was a show and a place and time for me to relax, enjoy myself, and then go back to reality when it was over.
Perhaps baseball always brings out the kid in us and that's what endears it to so many of us. My entertainment stars are dwindling, maybe because I think I’m too old now to have players to follow, and maybe the mass fantasy leagues has changed player affiliation.
Somehow, I always get Chase Utley in my leagues, so I guess you could say he’s my new era of rooting interest in baseball today that began in my midlife.
Maybe down the road, when Utley is nearing some milestone and I’m leaning back in my rocker with my grandkids watching a game with me like I did with my grandfather, I’ll reflect once again about how baseball is a great way to keep track of our own life’s time line of accomplishments.