Monday, March 2, 2009

The Royal and I

Dave and I attended an auction this weekend where we did not buy a dog.

But there was one item on the list that caught my eye, a baseball bat autographed by my very first love, former Kansas City Royals Third Baseman, George Brett.
“Remember, you gave up buying stuff for Lent,” Dave immediately whispered as the bat made its way around the room and the bidding began.
I didn’t realize I had been caressing my bidding paddle until that moment, so I put my hands in my lap. “Don’t worry,” I told him, “George and I are old news.”
And that is mostly true.
I have carried a monumental torch for George Brett since before I knew what a crush really was. Oh, yes, there were others who came and went, but George has been a constant. Mind you, he is not on “the list,” he is just a school-girl crush. A very big one.
(And before any of you locals skip to the bottom to comment, I will tell you right now that I have heard every rumor there is and, quite frankly, do not care. So save it.)
I watched every game, read every article, and even slept with his picture under my pillow the entire summer of 1980. I cried that fall when the Phillies beat the Royals in the World Series. And I cried five years later when the Royals beat the Cardinals in Game Seven to clinch the pennant.
My sister and I road-tripped to Kansas City from college to cheer on George as he played his last home game in 1993. And I dragged my one-year-old and newborn to the parade held in George’s honor when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame six years later. He waved at me.

Nearly 25 years had flown by before I finally had the opportunity to meet my hero-crush. We were living in a city at the time that was hosting a major pro golf tournament, and George Brett, being an avid golfer (legend has it he was once out golfing when the foursome behind him teed off before he had left the fairway; he swung his golf club at the oncoming ball – baseball style – and the ball sailed right back to the intruding foursome), was invited to put on a clinic for kids that week.
I weighed the possibility of dressing like a 10-year-old boy and attending the clinic, but I was afraid of being recognized by my friends. Luckily, I happened to be volunteering at the tournament on George Brett day and had the foresight to bring my camera with me, just in case I would run into George and he would want to document the occasion with a photo.
The morning went by without a sighting. By lunch time, I had all but given up. Hopeless and hungry, I went to the golf course clubhouse to eat before resuming my volunteer post. As I started to walk out of the club, though, I saw George walk in.
Right towards me.
We made eye contact. Actually, he probably looked in my direction when he heard my jaw hit the floor.
And then…
he put…
his arm…
Yes, he threw his arm around me without breaking stride, and pulled me back into the clubhouse with him.
I had rehearsed my next line ever since I heard he was coming to the tournament, and executed flawlessly:
“I have waited 25 years to take a picture with you!”
I smiled, I was charming, and I was totally unprepared for his response, “well, what took so long?”
I had nothing.
“Uh, (giggle, giggle), um…” was all that came out. And then, even worse, I squeaked out the lamest line ever, “I was only five.”
At night, before I fall asleep, I still pray that George Brett did not hear me say that.
He so kindly obliged, though, smiled big for the photo op, and then he asked me what I did for a living. I considered telling him I really had not pictured our conversation going this far and that I was out of things to say, but instead told him I was a mother of three (this was pre-diva) and high-tailed it out of there before he could say anything else to me.
(Clearly, I am not meant to ever meet Bono. I couldn’t keep it together for George, I couldn’t keep it together for Oprah[‘s assistant producer], I am pretty sure I would pass out in front of the Irish rocker.)
So as the price of the autographed bat rose higher than our current mortgage payment, I looked down at my bidding paddle, content to leave it on the table, as I knew I had already had all the George Brett I could handle.


JoanieS said...

Julie, I can SO relate! I get so star-struck. My husband gets to meet celebrities every so often in his line of work, and he told that me if I can't behave, I'm not allowed to tag along to anything.
There's a chance I'll meet Peyton Manning next weekend at the 101 Awards, and I'm working on my script now so I don't completely geek out and ask him if he'll be my best friend.

Sassy Britches said...

Oh, yes. The REAL THING is much better than any 'old bat, right? How exCITing!

Adriana said...

I grew up about an hour outside of KC and loved the fact that you "road tripped" to KC to watch the Royals play. It's been a LONG time since they were anything worth cheering for. Here's hoping for a major come back.

Tova Darling said...

Nice!! I'm glad you got your picture with him!

JRSwick said...

Please forgive...but I must:

George is cute, but he poopslikethe rest of us...okay so not like the rest of us unless you poop your pants at least once a year too. I'll take my hubby any day ;)) HA!

LC in Hawktown said...

Don't feel embarrassed. I remember when actor Sidney Poitier, Oprah's (and probably many others') personal hero, surprised her by walking on stage at Harpo studios. The camera panned down to Oprah's hands, which were visibly trembling. She seemed close to tears.
So,even famous people can be starstruck!