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March 31, 2003


Spring Training in Pittsburg, California

By Eric Marks (ericm@journalist.com)
I can recall at age 10…or was it 11 --
sitting on the mottled crab grass, watching my brothers play baseball
and how I pestered my dad to get me baseball cards at the 7-11.
“You got Alfredo Griffin!” noted my dad as I unwrapped the treasure
from its green wax paper, crunching the stale bubblegum that
came with it. It was a great time to be an A’s fan.
It was spring and we felt renewed.
I can recall how Chuck, Dave, Shane and I “camped” out in
Shane’s yard, digging a hole, creating a fire with the Delta air
fueling it. Stupid us didn’t know too much about carbon monoxide
poisoning. We built a canvas tent over the flame figuring it would keep us warm.
More rather, sick.
It was spring and we felt renewed.
I can tell you how Brandon and the gang recorded our newest hit song “Rap is Crap.” God, did
we really do that? “Rap is crap/it’s not cool/it makes you want to go poo.” Creative poets even then.
Damn and damned again, I can’t find that tape. Shane played Falco’s “Amadeus” that scratched piece of vinyl entertaining us for hours while we hit tennis balls to rhythm.
It was spring and we felt renewed.
We had to use tennis balls in that narrow court, we didn’t want to break any windows. All day until our
working mothers intoned dinner time and even then did we not still play? Man, didn’t we feel like Mark, Jose, Walt, Dave and Rickey? I think we all felt that the game was called off due to a catastrophic event.
It was spring and we felt renewed.
I can remember rubbing leather oil into my new glove, trying to remove Candy Maldonado’s signature
Because I wasn’t a Giants fan. I played first base, just like Mark. We used a car for a base. Then the ground gave. The Bay Bridge collapsed, baseball was on hold. God, didn’t baseball save lives?
I can remember rummaging through the tables of baseball cards, climbing those rickety stairs of the Second Deck. I thought the 1989 Bowman’s were the coolest, I got a Jackie Robinson reprint and two Julio Francos. God, was baseball life? That brand bridged a gap.
In the field of dreams in my mind, Barquitine Court is up there. I forgive the pavement for tearing my knees up. I was playing the game as it should be played. I slid on the street. God, could Rickey do that without whining about being traded?
It was spring and we felt renewed.
My dad used to point out the Sacramento River on the horizon. We moved up the river in 1989, traded the house for a better job and a better house. I’ve been with the same team for 23 years and refuse to be traded.
God, was baseball family?
April 22, 1999