Only when the future arrives does the past become clear.
* * *
One hundred years ago, on April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic left Southampton, England on a voyage for New York City. It never arrived.
Ten days later, baseball opened its newest ballpark, Fenway Park. At the time, Fenway Park had no history. No Babe Ruth, no Ted Williams, no Yaz, no Fisk, no Buckner, no Dave Roberts, no bloody sock. It was a blank slate of exciting possibilities.
* * *
In 1980, I was living in Sweden with my mom. I was 14. My dad was living in California. For the summer, my mom let me go on a plane voyage, by myself, across the Atlantic Ocean, to spend the summer with my dad. I managed to change planes at JFK Airport in New York, and not get lost. It was exciting. I felt like an adult.
* * *
On April 11, 2001, I attended a baseball game at the Oakland Coliseum between the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners. It was not technically the first game of the season for the A’s, or the Mariners, or the Mariners’ new imported outfielder, Ichiro Suzuki. But in my memory, it may just as well have been. Because that was the game where Ichiro arrived.
One play — one — made us all just stop, gasp, and say, “Whoa. Whoa! This guy is something special.”
I don’t have a photographic memory, but for that one play, Ichiro throwing a laser beam from right field to third base to throw out Terrence Long, my brain has decided to make an exception.
I can still see it quite clearly in my mind. Although now, after Ichiro’s long career, it means something quite different to me than it did back then.
* * *
Yesterday afternoon, April 6, 2012, my teenage daughter decided to go out with some friends. They didn’t have any specific plans.
At some point, she and her friends decided to go see the movie Titanic 3D.
At no point, did it occur to her to contact her parents and let her know of this decision.
At 8pm, we sent her a text message. Where are you? “Oh, at the theater. The movie’s about to start.”
* * *
At no point when I was travelling across the Atlantic Ocean by myself as a 14-year-old did it occur to me to think how my mom must have felt while she was waiting for me to call and let her know I had arrived.
The whole time, she probably feared the worst. She probably feared the Titanic.
* * *
Last night, April 6, 2012, there was yet another ballgame at the Oakland Coliseum between the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners. It was not the first game of the season for M’s and their old imported outfielder, Ichiro Suzuki, or the A’s and their new imported outfielder, Yoenis Cespedes.
But again, it may just as well have been. For there was, again, an arrival.
Gasp. Yoenis Cespedes absolutely destroyed that baseball.
* * *
When my daughter finally arrived home, at nearly midnight, we talked.
We did not talk about Yoenis Cespedes. We did not talk about how my mom felt when I flew across the Atlantic by myself three decades ago.
I said words that will probably not be fully understood for three decades hence, when it is my daughter’s turn to say them, to her own offspring.
* * *
The world will little note, nor long remember, who won the two ballgames which marked the arrivals of Ichiro and Cespedes. But those games will span generations. Fans may not now fully appreciate what Yoenis Cespedes did last night, or what it really means. But 11 years from now, as it did 11 years ago, some new star will burst forth, and we’ll finally realize what this special night was really all about.
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