By Chef Andrew H. Garrett
As I went through my Sunday routine on this beautiful November day, found myself diving into the depths of my old baseball memorabilia. You see, when I was a kid, from about the time I could throw a baseball (my dad will tell you I was 18 months) until my early 20’s I was an avid collector of all things baseball. I would spend every last dollar I earned umpiring little league games; on every type of baseball card, baseball hat, baseball jersey, baseball pennants, baseball games, baseball video games, and especially those wonderful Baskin and Robbins Summer Sundaes stuffed into every major league teams helmet. I’d even meticulously wash those helmets and use them for my daily cereal. I loved to collect baseball.
But what happened? Somewhere between the time I left high school and the time I got out of the Army I lost interest in the baseball collectibles of my youth. They still existed and I would still check in on them periodically to make sure they were safely tucked away or hung perfectly on the walls of my bedroom. There was even a point at my lowest of lows in addiction that I sold all my Alex Rodriguez rookie cards so I could buy some cocaine. Yep at the same time A-Rod was juicing I was snorting and I as I look back over that strange summer of 2005 it all makes perfect sense.
Today my baseball cards are basically worthless, my pennants are dusty and tattered, my adored sundae baseball helmets are faded and cracked; however my fandom still rages through my veins, Orange and Black. As I scuffled through my old cards today I realized the players I took extra care to protect 25 years ago are now on their way to the hall of fame or already enshrined in the holy land. The second tier cards the likes of “David Arias” (that’s David Ortiz) and some unknown guy named Bartolo Cologne are now sitting face up on my desk, as I scoured through my youth, I couldn’t help but take a trip back down memory lane to the days that Jake, Martin, Jason, Julio, and I would hurry to the card shop around the corner where Ralph would rumble in rocking Motley Crüe from the open windows of his sparkled blue ‘78 Camaro. It was in that card shop Ralph would open one pack with us every time we bought one. He’d then inevitably give us the cards (except for any inserts of course) and we would all later argue over who got what. Jake would get all the Oakland A’s, I’d get all the Giants, Martin would keep the Mariners, Jason and his hard luck Cubs, and Julio with every player of South American blood. Those were the days, the days when summer would never end and baseball seemed to be played year round. The evenings we’d spend hitting baseballs into the warm summer breeze, chasing haphazardly after them in the orange light of a California sunset.
I miss those days, I miss the smell of summer, the grilled hot dogs, fresh cut grass, the smell of a brand new pack of baseball cards, the crunch of the peanut toppings, and the sound of baseballs snapping leather gloves shut tight.
I will always be grateful for those summers, forever young, and forever Orange and Black.