Friday, April 29, 2011

Today's fortune: April 29, 2011

Today's fortune: An interesting sports opportunity is in your near future.

(NOTE: This is the fortune I opened yesterday afternoon at my office. Read more in yesterday's post.)

The Kansas City Royals have dropped six games straight, the NFL season is in jeopardy and I don't really care about any other sports. So this fortune didn't appeal to me at first sight.

But I got to thinking about it, and I'm calling in a favor to make for an unforgettable sports opportunity. First, let me tell you about one of my favorite all-time sports experiences.

Back about 10 years ago, my life was pretty crazy. I was working as the assistant editor of a newspaper in Platte City, Missouri, while completing my bachelor's degree at Park University, and I had recently met the love of my life.

At the newspaper, my jobs included covering the County Commission, two local school boards and the all the happenings in a handful of small towns (weekly newspaper people cover a large territory). One of those towns was the beautiful Missouri River village of Weston, Mo.

In Weston, someone had carved a baseball diamond out of a corn field, a la "Field of Dreams." A group of "ghost players from the actual Field of Dreams site in Iowa came to town to play a game there. It was quite a happening in Weston.

Before the game started, a a few local celebrities were introduced, including Kansas City baseball legends Buck O'Neil and George Brett. (I've written about George and Buck on this blog before.)

Buck was sitting on the other side of the diamond from me. They introduced him and another man, a 75-year-old local who had once played pro ball, and the two of them walked out toward the mound to throw out the first pitch together. By this time, Buck was in his nineties.

To my sadness, it appeared that Buck O'Neil was needing to make it to the mound. But as they drew closer, I realized Buck was helping the other man - who was at least 15 years his junior.

That's the first part of the memory. The other part is when they introduced George Brett. George, who by this time had been retired for several years, has a reputation around Kansas City for being a bit cantankerous in public. But he was in fine form that day, joking with the fans, signing autographs and being generally awesome.

Let me stop the memory here to tell you a little about George Brett as a ballplayer. He was known for his grit. He played hard every single inning of every single game. And we in Kansas City loved him for that. He also had this unique, ugly batting stance, where he damn near turned his back to the pitcher.

No kidding - when I played youth baseball, the coaches specifically told us NOT to stand like George Brett.

But when the pitch came in, George gritted his teeth and delivered the most perfect swing imaginable.

And no batting gloves... just like a real man ought to hit.

Okay, back to the memory. A smiling, laughing George Brett was introduced to the crowd, and the event organizers egged him on to take some batting practice. Reluctantly, he agreed. George jovially walked to the plate and grabbed a bat. The instant he stepped into the batter's box, the smile left his face, replaced by a look that surely gave the batting practice pitcher nightmares. He was all business.

And just like in days of yore, George turned his back to the mound and waited for the pitches to sail in. Then he proceeded to spray hard line drives all over the field.

It was simply amazing. I truly believe George Brett could have put on a Royals uniform that day, and he still would have been a legitimate major league hitter.

Okay, enough reminiscing. Let's get to today's fortune. The first person I talked to about the fortune was my brother Marty, who happens to work part-time at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. He can get free tickets to games, which would be a fine experience. But it's not exactly what I had in mind for this fortune.

"Can't you hook me up with some kind of deluxe, VIP experience at the ballpark?" I asked.

"Well," he said, "when you get to the stadium I can bring you a cookie from the press box."

"Wow," I replied. "Are you sure you can swing that?"

He's thinking about other possibilities to create a real My Daily Fortune experience at the stadium. In the meantime, he even gave me a backup plan.

"My friend's son is playing T-ball this summer," he said. "I could probably get them to let you throw out the first pitch at one of his T-ball games."

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