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By Mike Shannon


I was the kid whose world went supernova when he discovered baseball.

I was the kid who learned the rudiments of the game by playing “catch over the roof” and Indian ball in the street.

I was the kid who fell in love with his favorite player many many years before he even thought of kissing a girl.

I was the kid whose best Christmas present ever was his very first baseball glove, a Rawlings Don Blasingame model.

I was the kid who rode his bike all over the neighborhood collecting pop bottles to earn baseball card money.

I was the kid who tried out for Little League in the days when kids got cut and cried unashamedly when they did.

I was the kid who ate uncounted bowls of cereal of dubious nutritional value to acquire the baseball cards on the backs of the boxes.

I was the kid who felt like the President being inaugurated when he made his Little League team and knew he was going to be issued a real flannel baseball uniform with a sponsor’s name on the back of it..

I was the kid who got chased out of Jake’s Newsstand downtown every spring when the new baseball annuals came out – it wasn’t my fault they were kept near the girlie magazines!

I was the kid who never flipped his baseball cards or clothes-pinned them to the spokes of his bicycle wheels.

I was the kid who pored over the rosters in the back of Street & Smith, looking for players with the same birthday as his own.

I was the kid who devoured every word of  Arnold Hano’s profiles of baseball stars in Sport Magazine.

I was the kid who made spinner cards for whole teams of players for the Ethan Allen table top baseball game … and cheated to make the players of his favorite team perform better than they should have.

I was the kid who read every baseball book in the public library and turned in book reports with the paper cut into the shape of a circle with red stitches on it.

I was the kid whose bedroom was a personal … if I may use the term … “baseball reliquary,” full of pennants, Hall of Fame busts, and Hartland statues.

I was the kid who told the class when his high school history teacher went around the room asking, that what he wanted to be when he grew up was a major league baseball player.

I was the kid who went to a simplified windup as a high school pitcher, mimicking a Cardinals pitcher he saw work in the 1968 World Series.

And, yes, sad to say, while I was NOT the kid whose mother threw out his baseball cards; I was the kid who gave his cards away when he grew up and went to college.

I was the kid who tried to savor every minute of his last college team baseball practice;
… the kid who got married on the day of the year most resembling his favorite player so he wouldn’t ever forget his wedding anniversary;
… the kid who convinced his beautiful Irish wife to name their last four children Casey, Mickey, Babe, and Nolan Ryan;
… the kid who made the study, the creation, and the publication of baseball literature his true vocation in life;
… the kid who at age 33 finally admitted to himself that he probably wasn’t going to make the major leagues;
… and the fifty-five year old kid whose mother said it best: “I always thought you’d get over baseball, but you never did.”

And today I am the big kid who is thrilled to become the eighth recipient of the Tony Salin Memorial Award, and for that honor and your kind attention I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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