As I write this on the morning of my 43rd birthday, my right foot hurts as does my left arm. Mostly due to the 90 minutes of batting practice I threw my son yesterday, but also because of the inevitable passage of time and what that does to a “big boned” body like mine.
But even though 43 is coming in like a lion, 42 was a helluva year.
This time last year, I had no idea that my life was about to change – again – for the second time in two years. It seems that a new found aggression? passion? fire? fuck you-idness? all started when Sungwoo decided to come across the pond and hang out for a couple weeks. And then my baseball team decided to do a very un-Royal thing and start winning.
Then the Wild Card game. Then the playoffs and the World Series. Then a 30 for 30. Then a book. Then book sales out of my garage. All wrapped around a great job, broadcasting of half of the NAIA basketball tournament, football games, writing for the newspaper, and then… well, there might be one or two more surprises born out of last year yet to come.
All in the past year.
I’ve had some good years. My 16th, when I got my 1976 F-150 “three on the tree” was a particularly good year. I guess every sweet 16 would be like that as kids gain their true Independence for the first time. The first and second times I went to Umpire School (20, 21) and learned a trade that would sustain me the next 20 years.
The year I got married. The years my boys were born (one too close to 21 and one very far away.)
But it’ll be hard to top 42.
For everything that went right last year, there’s still a mountain that went wrong. I’m not as good a husband as I need to be. I’m not as good a Dad or a son as I need to be. There is a mountain of unfinished projects in my life that I need to pick up and work on. The house is a disaster and it looks like we won’t be able to move to a traditional neighborhood with sidewalks for my kid to play on any time soon.
But that still doesn’t diminish the accomplishments of 42.
Maybe it’s that 42 is such a great baseball number. Of course, the legendary Jackie Robinson wore 42. I got to hear the stories of Jackie Robinson from inside the hallowed halls of the Negro Leagues Museum from none other than the president of the museum, Bob Kendrick. Other greats including Mariano Rivera, Dave Henderson and Al Fitzmorris of the Royals all wore 42 proudly and greatly.
So on the eve of 43, I look back on 42 not out of boastfulness or swagger. But just with a quiet head nod – the kind you’d see on a baseball diamond to recognize something good on the diamond.
There will never be another year like 42.