02 July 2007

Super. Human.


That's me. With one Mr. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. Even if you don't follow sports, you might have seen his name since it's been all over the TV lately, as he made history in Comerica Park by tossing a no-hitter, thereby reserving his spot at the top on the news and sports headlines for days to come.

For those of you who don't follow sports and are thinking, "No big deal", let me expound. The last time a pitcher in Detroit had that combination of magic, momentum and talent, the year was 1952, in Briggs Stadium. In 1984, Jack Morris also carved his notch in history, but he wasn't in Detroit when he did it. In the Tiger's entire 106 year history, only six pitchers have accomplished this...so yes, it's a big deal.

But this post isn't about a super-human display of athleticism, it's about an amazing display of an awesome human being.

I mentioned in my last post that my entire family was meeting up for our annual trek to Comerica Park. Following the game, most of them went back to their rooms, while my sister and I decided to look for a livelier end to the evening.

Long story short, we found it.

In an undisclosed location, (so, please, no one mention it in your comments, or else I won't post them) we stumbled upon one of the best nights of our lives.

Obviously, we met some of the Tigers. But what isn't obvious is the fact that when we called our relatives to come down, they sat there and signed autographs and got their pictures taken with them. (Are you recalling that there was a gaggle of us?)

Additionally, my sister's boyfriend, P, said, upon the phone call to the room, "I'll buy everyone in the group a drink if the Tiger's are in the bar downstairs". I've not tasted a beer so good. Why the man would make a bet like that with a girl that watches the Tigers every single night and that can still name the 1984 line-up is beyond me, but again, the beer was great.

When the group arrived en masse, Verlander could have said, "one picture" and then gone on with his night, but instead he made the lives of some kids that now think I'm a little bit awesome. As long as they live, they will recall that night. When Verlander gets inducted into the Hall of Fame, they will speak of that night with cracks in their voices and point to the baseball up on the shelf. Their children will know the story, as probably will their children's children.

There are many professional athletes that despise the fame that comes with it. That snarl at kids tugging on their shirts, baseball in their outstretched hands and hope in their eyes. That curse and wave off the fans singing their praises. That growl at reporters and take only private elevators.

That in one fell swoop can crush a kids heart and make his bedroom, adorned with posters and newspaper clippings of his hero, a place less of childhood and more a place of the first indication of things not being what they seemed when viewed through innocent eyes. Each glance at the tributes of their hero a constant reminder of The Day the Magic Died. "No, kid, I don't sign autographs".

I'm sure it does get wearing; the constant spotlight, when in the beginning, it was all just about a kid with a dream, and none of the trappings that come with it. I can understand how grating it would be--the justifications that probably pass through their minds--just because they spent years and years honing a talent, and beat incredible odds to stand where they are, now they have to answer to so many requests and sacrifice a quiet dinner or a night of anonymity? That part, I'm sure, wasn't part of their dream while they were shooting hoops or tossing baseballs under the moonlight in their childhood yards.

And while Verlander lives at least part of his dream everyday, he and his friends made the dream for a group of people, who now, each year when we meet up at Comerica, will surely recall that evening with laughter and smiles.

Super athletes? You can see them everyday on ESPN.

Super humans? Possibly as rare as the elusive no-hitter. How lucky, that in one month, I've witnessed them both.

Go Tigers.


Her Grace said...

As your sports-illiterate cousin, even I am touched.

In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

That post gives me hope! That someday my son(s) will have the same experience of meeting a Red Sox player.

Becc said...

OMG!!!!! He is phenomenon looking!!! and talent to go with it???


When is the wedding????????

Seattle Mamacita said...

amazing night! you look fantastic too Jen! We are going to see the Tigers here in Seattle on July 13th and thanks to this post I will look at Verlander with new eyes. I'm originally from East Lansing so i've always been a big Tigers fan back when Daryl Strawberry played :)

flutter said...

ok but you know what? You are SO. CUTE.

T with Honey said...

That was cool on so many levels!!

And I hope he starts a trend for professional athletes. It is disgusting to see people that get millions of dollars every year to play a sport refuse to give back to the fans.

luckyzmom said...

Thanks for the wonderful story. It reminded me right away of when I was about seven years old and met "The Cisco Kid" after waiting in a long line with my brother. He was so nice. My Mom always said that I was the only kid in line that said thank you and the only one he kissed on the forehead. And you're right, as long as I live I will recall that moment.

KC said...

Magical post and dreamy dude.

Glad you and your extended family had such a great moment there. You are radiant!

Christine said...

I don't watch baseball, but now I am a Tiger fan.

That dude is CUTE!

jen said...

all i can think is how very much you needed somrthing like this, so very much. and what a fantastic good time.


Anonymous said...

Awww, it makes me feel guilty for cheating on the Tigers with the Cubs these past 10 years! What an awesome night for you! Go Tigers! (I have such fond memories of their big win in '84!)

Angela said...

Sounds like a blast. It is so great when we meet people who are like that.

CAZ said...

SO many people were shocked that we all met him & he was so "superhuman". He's probably my new "Tiger" now. :-)

Amanda said...

I loved this, and that smile, that brilliant who's the gorgeous blonde in the cap picture will be the way I think of you from this day forward!

JR's Thumbprints said...

It's nice to see a professional baseball pitcher not giving the brush off. Cool pic!

bjover said...

Thats so cool that u met someone thats made history. That definitely doesnt happen every day!

Anonymous said...

You are so beautiful, now I have a face to go with the voice. And him, wow. I wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating crackers, that's for sure.