Friday, July 8, 2011

May 29, 1995


He will be the 28th in the history of this sport to reach 3000 hits. It is reported that well over 16,000 have played major league baseball since Abner Doubleday invented the error and the double play. In a game dominated by numbers, in which every possibility is catalogued and chronicled, where meanings are sometimes hard to define, this one is different.

It began on May 29, 1995. Bill Clinton was struggling in his first term in office. George W. Bush was just giving up his ownership of the Texas Rangers and taking an unlikely turn as Governor of Texas. Pete Rose was less than a decade removed from the last of his 4,256 hits. Don Mattingly's Yankee career was nearing its end, truncated by a back that kept his excellence from reaching extraordinary.

Since then, we have been through economic downturns and revivals. We have seen the twin symbols of our greatness destroyed in an instant. We have lived through 2 wars on foreign soil. We have experienced turmoil and trauma, turbulence and uncertainty as we raised questions as to our actions and our place in this world.

Our own lives have been altered in so many ways. My children were in elementary and middle school when he first appeared on the scene. Today, my youngest has finished college, graduate school and is now gainfully employed. I have watched in pain as the effects of age have done their best to ravage my mom.

I have been as guilty as any fan of living pitch to pitch and bat to at bat. A hero, and then in the next instant, a bum. Great and then finished. But through the disappointments and the distractions, through the boredom and the repetitiveness, through the slumps and the aches and pains, through it all, he has persevered.

And so, 3000 awaits. It is a tribute to sustained excellence, good luck and an intense desire to succeed. While so many have risen and fallen, come and gone, while life has been changed in so many ways, he has remained a constant. And for a ballplayer, that is the greatest of achievements.

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