As a child growing up in the care of the C.H.S. I had very few opportunities to play organized sports and even fewer chances to see the games live. I do however remember the day I fell in love with sports and to be more exact, Baseball. Every year just after Thanksgiving the children in the home would get together to make out the list of things they would like to receive for Christmas. As a "lifer", the term for the older kids deemed unadoptable, i would sit back in wonderment. Each child would go to task writing the list. You would even see some verifying with Webster as to make sure they spelled each item correctly. The joy this brought to the faces of those kids was my gift. I enjoyed the hope they showed.
For me and my little brother who had also been in the system for many years it was always the same thing, another waste of time but at some point we would cave in and make our list. He was 5 at the time and I 13 so this was always for me an effort in futility and yet I tried to be positive as not to cause him any more unnecessary pain. Every year he would put the same thing on the list. Parents. That was the list. The first few years he would be specific but as time passed the list became one word. For me it was always a grand gesture that I would put knowing that no matter how big or small I made the list I would get the staples, socks and underwear. Well this year I thought it would be really funny to put an unattainable gift, my attempt to appease my sense of doubt I would guess. I put down three words. Live sporting event.
I had seen a few games on TV and was a fan of the teams all my peers hated. Being from NYC I chose the Dallas Cowboys in football simply because the team and I have the same birthday. I chose the NY Rangers for hockey because the left over jerseys we had for our street games were the Islanders and I despised them for that reason. I chose the SA Spurs in basketball because the only game I had ever seen was one with the Red, White and Blue ball and that was cool. As for Baseball I had chosen the Yankees. I had read a story about the great Thurman Munson and so I chose his team. I did not care that they were from New York or that they had won a bunch of games just that his story had so touched me has a young boy.
So now that the background is set up I can finish the tail of Christmas. When the day rolled around we all come running down our respective hallways to see what we have. Everyone skips past the dining hall, which is amazing in and of itself but that is another tale, and head right to the large group hall. There it stood for all to see, THE TREE. All the kids smiled and when they noticed all the gifts wrapped under the tree they screamed for joy.I casually leaned on the wall and waited to see my little brother emerge from the pile.
He had a little box and a very large card with his name printed in large letters on the envelope. I have to admit I was shocked. I was also perplexed as we had never seen this before and I was on my tenth Christmas in the system. He came over to me with a look on his face as to say what do I do now. I sat him down and told him to open the box. As he ripped it open it was a very unique gift, it was from a set of parents and it was a picture of his new room. The card was next and it simply read "We would like you to come and live with us" and had a picture of a young couple included. He was so over joyed he could not contain his reaction and vegan to jump and scream and thank Santa Claus and anyone else that would listen. When he finally calmed down he sat next to me and began to cry. "Will you be coming with me?" he asked. I had no way to answer him, I had no words to say. I was just about to try and put a sentence together when the young couple in the photograph touched me on the shoulder, almost as if on cue. The young lady grabbed my brothers hand and the young man help me to my feet. They guided us to the House mothers office and told us the news. Within in days he was gone.
The only promise that was made to me was that we would stay in touch. When my brothers new father came around the following April i was , to say the least, shocked. I was in the courtyard playing chess. He walked up to me with the house "parent" and asked if I would like to go for a visit. I of course said yes. We got into a car and were driven into the City. We arrived and took a series of subway trains and when we emerged there it was. Yankee Stadium. I saw my little brother running towards me and tried in vain to hold back the tears. I had not seem him in nearly four months and now we are going to our first baseball game together. It was the greatest day of my childhood. He had gotten his Christmas wish and now I had received mine. I watched him and the game and to this day love the game.
No matter what is happening around me I can always take myself back to that day , to that very second when the world was right, if only for a moment. It was baseball. I have since changed the train I take to the game as the Mets play in Queens but I still love baseball and I still remember the very second I fell in love with Sports.