On The Heart Beat
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How To Find a Lost Ball
Once upon a time, there was a ball—a baseball wrapped in shiny black electrical tape—it hid in the brush alongside a sandlot where a spirited neighborhood game had halted.
After a long search the game ended. It was the only ball left.
The half-dozen east-end hooligans hosting the other siders called for a rematch when a new ball was procured and dispersed to seek and cajole in search of another.
Rain ensued and the PF flyers shod pee wees became indoor captives.
It may have been a tipping point as the rainy Saturday encouraged engaging in homework. In particular, the assignment was to write about the past weekend.
My Lost Ball fell off the number 2 pencil onto the widely lined notebook pages, describing the chronological timeline of the lost ball.
Tracked from the boxed blazing white and red stitching to its black lopsided version where it hid in battered repose, My Lost Ball drew a B+ with an A+ for creativity and a D for penmanship and punctuation.
It wrote of the heartbreak of loss—as real as the weeds in which the ball sought refuge—to the prospect of coughing up another week's paper route earnings for a replacement.
To this pen, My Lost Ball represents a watershed moment. My big leagues could come on paper if not grasses of big city stadia.
And it did, travailing from dollar-an-hour proofreading through C-Suite TV production roles, the skinny young body that began the trek is held together with euphemistic electrical tape today, though my #2 pencil continues to erupt with the spirit of youth.
Ghosting golf, business and even political messaging have fed my lifestyle tapeworm in the interim, until an over-the-transom opportunity to ride content shotgun for SportsEdTV as its Editor pumped additional energy into my give-a-hoot meter.
To add to the burner, during a recent interview with a renowned golf author, getting the early-stage bio questions out of the way, the author flipped the question and began a dive into my experience.
Usually, just the crow's feet and turkey neck suffice to provide cover, though he was strong and wrung out a few highlights, then ended up asking, “Well why in hell don’t you write that book?”
That burst came after I’d spun a few of my favorite and usual ESPN birthing stories.
I've always known that what I know and experienced during those pre-natal network days is the fodder for a fun write.
My reluctance has been tied to my friendship and ongoing relationship with Bill Rasmussen, founder of ESPN, believing it has been his story to tell. He has, in Sports Junkies Rejoice written when the network was five years old and another he wrote recently One Giant Leap for Fankind, tracing its growth.
During the network’s 25th anniversary, I did write an essay for Connecticut Magazine, speaking to the courage of unheralded Connecticut people who were instrumental in seeing ESPN through the OBGYN visits and there the incubator stage.
“Why in the hell don’t you write that book?” percolated, bubbling over finally in a call to Bill, asking how he’d feel if I wrote about the unheralded ESPN midwives and accoucheurs.
“What a great idea. How can I help? “was his fast response. We are collaborating. His introduction to the manuscript is a welcome and full-throated approval.
Not long after that came a big name publisher lured into an agreement, I think by my teaser that invoked romance, gambling, Bolivian marching powder and other peccadillos along with courage, and risk of ‘SPNauts™ who put their careers at risk to strap on to a rocket ride.
What I didn’t count on was how my heart has sung and sunk daily as I reached out to those wonderful people who if not close personal friends were teammates.
Some sadly are no more and some inject a heartfelt buoyancy that is addictive.
To assuage that addiction the three-days-a-week golf habit will have to take a sabbatical.
Serving two bulging give-a-hoot writing meters won’t leave a lot of playtimes.
The blog writing and editing for SportsEdTV provides a daily dose of pride.
The manuscript is due in September and ESPN’s Earliest Days: Daydreams and Nightmares is calendared to be published in the spring of 2024, and promises to finally find My Lost Ball.