It’s a delightful 65 degrees in St. Joe, Missouri today. The light breeze slowly wafts over you and if you pay close attention, you smell the faintest whiff of baseball.
However, on this day, the whiff I’m getting holds the strong scent of processed deli meat.
Today at Hyvee, Danny Duffy, Billy Butler, Greg Holland, and Kevin Seitzer are showing up to sign some autographs and talk Royals baseball with fans who are punished with the knowledge that despite almost spring-like temperatures and weather, opening day is still several months away.
I called home several days ago and informed my parents that I was planning on coming home for the holiday weekend. They informed me that the Royals Caravan was going to make a stop at Hyvee on Sunday. They thought maybe I could write about it. So here’s a follow-up to my article from last week. I couldn’t have planned it better than this.
I entered Hyvee around 1:45 today and saw that the line already stretched back past the deli section of the store. I took my place in line and thought, “Maybe my celebrity status will allow me to cut into the front of the line.”
Let me explain.
You know how people sometimes think they have celebrity doppelgangers?* Well people around me keep telling me that mine is that celebrity chef Curtis Stone. If you walk into Hyvee there are cardboard cutouts of him all over the place because he does commercials for them or something. Honestly, I don’t really see the resemblance besides the fact that we both have an angular face and blonde hair that is often messy.**
*Doppelganger – a ghostly double or counterpart of a living person (according to dictionary.com in case you were wondering…you probably weren’t.)
**In all honesty, I’d rather have his gourmet cooking skills and his cool accent as opposed to a similarity in facial structure. The cooking and the accent seem to be the factors that set the ladies’ hearts a-flutterin’.
After deciding that nobody would buy my sad attempt at an Australian accent, I decided to do my two favorite activities at sporting and sporting-related events. Jersey-spotting and listening to fans talk about the team. After spotting a few Bo Jackson jerseys, mentally questioning someone’s Francoeur jersey ( I like him, I just think it’s a little too early to be investing in his merchandise), and satisfyingly noting that no one else had a ratty Jermaine Dye jersey t-shirt like mine, I settled in to listen to what the people around me had to say.
I heard a man behind me talk about how when he was young, you read a lot more stories about the Royals winning as opposed to the last decade. “Stop bragging,” my mind grumbled good-naturedly. One kid was trying to guesstimate Duffy’s height. It got me thinking about how athletes always seem to end up a lot bigger than expected up close as opposed to how small they seem when you’re watching them play at a game or on television. At least that’s what it seems like to me. One kid was pumped about getting his Danny Duffy rookie card signed. Another man wondered whether he’d be bigger than Billy Butler. A couple of older ladies walked by commenting on the fact that they thought it was dumb that people were willing to stand in line for a bunch of sports autographs.
The guys showed up a little late and we found out that Kevin Seitzer was sick and had been replaced by John Mayberry. Some fans were a little down about that. They already had Mayberry’s autograph. I didn’t so I was cool with it. As our line slowly moved forward I thought to myself, “What am I going to say to these guys?” As I related last week, my autograph-obtaining skills are fairly new and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. I had my Royals baseball all set to be signed and I practiced what I’d say to the players while they were signing my baseball. I’d say, “How about 40 homers this year, Billy? Is that bullpen still gonna be sick, Greg? The starting rotation’s gonna be a little better this year, huh Danny?”
As I neared the table, Billy got up and started walking down the line signing people’s stuff. Apparently the guys still needed to leave on time from Hyvee and he was trying to get people autographs before the players had to leave. I barely had time for a “Thanks, Bill” before my baseball was back in my hands and he was off down the line. I understood though. He was just trying to make sure people hadn’t waited in line for nothing. I got to Mr. Mayberry who greeted me with a polite “How ya doin’, young man?” I responded with “Pretty good, sir” and moved on.
This wasn’t going as I’d planned.
Greg Holland took my baseball and signed it and I moved on without saying anything because everything I’d thought of mentioning instantly sounded dumb. I got to Danny Duffy and decided I was going to think of something to say. I heard the guy in front of me say, “Good luck this year, Danny.”
“Well there’s no way I’m gonna say something like that,” I thought.
Danny looked up at me. “How you doing today, man?” he asked.
“I’m pretty good, man. How are you doing?” I said. It was a good start I thought.
“I’m doing alright.” He replied. He signed my ball and gave it back to me. I tried to think of something to say.
“Good luck this year, Danny.”
“Thanks, man.” he replied.
Eh….you’ve got to start with small steps.