Thirty-five-ish years ago, I was opening baseball card packs and finding my favorite players inside. Recently, in the dugout and on the field at Minute Maid Park in Houston, I was giddy as I talked to my childhood baseball card heroes.
As an online contributor for Global Traveler magazine, I am always seeking out interesting stories involving travel. Thanks to the hospitality of the Houston Astros over the last few years, I have been able to interview many members of the Astros organization, along with their opponents.
Our big coup this year was Craig Biggio, future Hall-of-Famer, who spent his entire career with the Astros. Biggio told us his favorite city to visit as a player was Chicago and his favorite restaurant was Gibson’s.
I can relate the favorites from others, but you can just as easily read that next Wednesday on GT’s site. Right now, I want to express what I was feeling.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of interviewing players, coaches and broadcasters at seven ballparks. Each time, I find myself in a euphoric surreal state. Yes, it is a job, but don’t think for one moment that I am not soaking it all in and enjoying it like the time of my life. I am on the field (or in the dugout or even the clubhouse), talking to players, not as a fan (okay, not just a fan), but as a peer of sorts as a member of the press.
This year, aside from Biggio, whose career took place during my adulthood, I was fortunate enough to talk to some childhood favorites including Cubs coaches Jamie Quirk and Dave McKay. I can still remember finding them staring at me from their baseball cards as I flipped through my newly opened card packs so many years ago.
I never get tired of this experience. I am very happy that this childhood magical feeling can be recalled and relived.
Of course, none of this could happen without the time and consideration of the organizations like the Astros, as well as the individual baseball people. In an age when money and big corporations rule all, I am happy to report that I stood side-by-side with ESPN, Fox Sports, Comcast and other huge media outlets, as we got the same quotes and answers.
Furthermore, in individual sessions, I got more interviews than the “big guys,” although I also tried to get more. Clearly the players and coaches knew this would not land on the evening sports highlights. Instead, (in addition to here on the Patch), I am writing for a niche business travel magazine. Yet, everyone treated me as if I was just as important as the bigger media outlets.
Players and coaches could easily decline my requests, especially this year with the Astros and Cubs, two teams who have endured long and unsuccessful seasons. They must be tired, frustrated and even bored by now, but we received thoughtful answers from everyone we asked.
On the flight home, I couldn’t help but feel great as I reflected on this latest trip. It felt great to talk to baseball players of past and present. It also felt great to be treated so well by a major league baseball organization. Baseball season is near its end, but this feeling should carry me through the winter!