New year, new blog. Why the heck not? I thought Freddie Lynn was a good place to start. My dad took me to my first baseball game at Memorial Stadium back in 1987, when I was five. I remember very little about the game, as I wouldn't become a baseball fan for several more years. The Orioles were hosting the Milwaukee Brewers. My father bribed me into sitting still by promising a trip to the concession stand in the fifth inning. So I sat transfixed, watching the big scoreboard in the outfield, waiting for the magical concept of the Fifth Inning. After all these years, only one actual play from the game stands out: A Milwaukee batter hit a deep drive to center field, and Fred Lynn made a spectacular play, leaving his feet and crashing into the fence to make the grab.
I didn't make it to the end of the game. As Dad and I walked back through one of the adjacent neighborhoods towards our car, we passed by another man who must have asked if we'd been at the game. "He got tired," my father explained.
I'm not the only one who got tired. Fred Lynn's best days were behind him when he arrived in Baltimore in 1985. He'd burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced youngster with the Red Sox in the mid-'70s, but a dozen years in the big leagues seem to have taken their toll by the time the photo was snapped in 1987. Something about his tousled hair, his creased face, and his five o' clock shadow, and his squinting, somewhat silly grin have always reminded me of Al Bundy, that dysfunctional everyman who made his TV debut in...1987. Go figure. Taking a closer look at the card as I write this entry, I notice for the first time that Fred's jersey is unbuttoned. He's a weary veteran who can't be bothered with the niceties of the baseball card photo shoot any more. He'll grin and bear it, but don't think he's shaving and putting on his full uniform just for you.