I enjoyed approximately eight years of (presumably) good vision before things went south for me. I can't specifically remember having trouble seeing the blackboard in school for any length of time, but I do recall the moment that my parents suspected something was amiss. We were at the National Aquarium in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, participating in a Cub Scouts field trip. The rainforest exhibit was one of the few areas of the aquarium with windows, offering a view of downtown Charm City. My mother pointed out the Domino Sugars building, with its name lit up in neon. I, however, could not read the giant electric sign. You can see why there might have been cause for concern.
I was soon diagnosed as nearsighted and equipped with eyeglasses, a rare sight in my second grade class. The glasses themselves weren't so bad: a pair of moderately thick, round, dark tortoiseshell frames. I wore them for about three years, and never broke or even bent them. I was a reasonably responsible kid, I guess. At first I didn't mind my bespectacled status, but when I found out during my third grade year that I'd eventually have to get braces, I was a little more dejected. One afternoon I actually started crying in class, prompting my concerned teacher to pull me aside and ask me what was wrong. I told her between sobs that I didn't want to be a geek. (Of course, being the quiet, sensitive, brainy kid, I'm pretty sure my lot in life was already cast.)
During fifth grade, I got my second pair of glasses, with a slightly stronger prescription. If I was worried about being uncool, I didn't do myself any favors: as I was on a Beatles kick, I chose a pair of large round lenses in a gold frame, a la John Lennon. Before long, I was chafing to break free of my spectacle shackles. Puberty had hit me like a ton of bricks - long, oily hair, braces, and a sudden growth spurt that turned my body into a gangly jumble of limbs seemingly overnight - and I was eager to make any upgrades I could to my appearance to better impress the girls that had become much more interesting to me. Somehow it didn't occur to me to get a haircut or to shave the squirrelly wisps of adolescent mustache. Anyhow, I did start doffing my glasses at any opportunity at school, usually when we were doing classwork and didn't have to look at the chalk board.
As my last year of grade school wound down and high school loomed on the horizon, I knew it was time for a change. With the blessing of my parents, I traded my owlish glasses for a pair of soft contact lenses. Though learning to insert them was one of the most thoroughly frustrating experiences of my life, before long I'd learned to slip them in and out without the aid of a mirror. It's now been twelve years since my Four-Eyed days came to an end, and many of my current friends and acquaintances don't even realize that I have a vision problem. Due to an unfortunate oversight at the MVA, my drivers' license doesn't indicate that I should be wearing corrective lenses when I take the wheel. I do have glasses (thinner tortoiseshell frames with smaller elliptical lenses), but they've been around for a decade and are bent up and are worn as an absolute last resort. So I'm still a little vain - shoot me.
Though I became a baseball fan when I was still the awkard kid with big glasses, I never looked up to the Joe Nolans, Ron Kittles, and Chris Sabos in my card collection. I'm sure it would've helped if there was a four-eyed masher that was active during my childhood, but the Reggie Jacksons and Dick Allens of the world were already retired.
Do you have a favorite glasses-clad ballplayer, past or present?