Saturday, March 10, 2012

Will It Diminish Its Value?

I have a signed baseball that I have in a nice plastic display box. I caught it at during batting practice at a Giants game in 1989 (that was the year the Giants and A's went to the World Series and the infamous earthquake game). I had Bill Bathe and that year's MVP Kevin Mitchell sign it. Since I was working with youth at the time, I spent a lot of time with kids and going to ball games and card shows. I can't put a price on the quality time I had with those kids and so many of them have grown up to be amazing men of God. So while the kids would buy cards and line up to meet the stars of their time, I also got to collect autographs on that ball that were important to me (all of whom are in the Hall Of Fame):

Tony Gwynn: lifetime .338 average; 3141 career hits. One of the great pure hitters of any generation.

Enos Slaughter: .300 lifetime average; over 2300 hits. Hard nosed, win at all costs outfielder; famous for his "Mad Dash" that beat the Red Sox; although considered a real tough guy in his time, he was truly kind gentleman when I met him.

Reggie Jackson: Mr. October; 563 home runs and one of the greatest World Series performances in 1977.

Willie McCovey: one of boyhood heroes; pure classy individual, a true giant of a man; 521 home runs; some of my fondest memories of clutch hits, moon shot home runs and even scary line drives that were hit so hard, they ended up being home runs.

Willie Mays: arguably the greatest of them all. 660 home runs, .302 average; the definitive 5 tool player; played with a style and exuberance that left so many in awe; performed the greatest catch in World Series history (and even held the runners from advancing).

This ball is one of those things that guys would consider "prized". So many good memories associated with it. It sits on a shelf in my house for everyone to admire.

Fast forward to 2012: I have had the great pleasure of striking up a friendship with former major league pitcher Lee Guetterman. Obviously he's not making the Hall Of Fame, but he was a very good reliever and even more important a truly great guy and a man walking with God. I have loved the time hearing stories from his time in the majors and learning so much about the art of pitching. The only thing I don't like is that he got Barry Bonds out twice in September of 1993 which might have prevented the Giants of going to the playoffs. He even has a picture of one of the at bats in his house.

Anyway, I asked Lee to sign the ball that has five Hall Of Famers and a league MVP on it. I'm sure some of you reading this are asking this question: Will it diminish its value? That was Lee's question too. What hit me is that in my mind it added to the value of the ball. Why? I feel it a blessing that I have his friendship. In God's eyes, he belongs in the Hall Of Fame. His life will have a legacy of eternal impact. Instead of appraising this ball, I believe I have a token that has a lifetime of memories. The first baseball game I ever attended, Mays and McCovey played (remember when Candlestick had an open right field?). I spent way too many hours watching the Swingin' A's and those Bronx Zoo teams win championships. I revel in the times I had with kids watching ballgames and hopefully showing them the Emmanuel. Heck it's fun to catch a ball hit into the stands! Now I have met and gotten to know a Major Leaguer who also is a man of God. Now that's value!

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