A couple of days ago while making my daily run-through of the Dodger blog sites, I came across a post on the Vin Scully is my Home Boy site about former Dodger great Steve Garvey deciding to auction off his remarkable collection of trophies, awards, rings and other items from his outstanding career.
Although it isn’t exactly clear why the Garv is doing this, it got me to thinking about what every former major leaguer must go through at some point in their life – to hang on to or to let go of their past.
In the real world, that is, the working class world outside of professional baseball (and I mean no disrespect by that whatsoever), most of us must put in upwards of 30 years before we can retire, whereas most baseball players are through by age 40. Heck, I was just entering my prime during my forties – although I didn’t realize it until I entered my fifties.
Of the many former major leaguers who I have met over the years, nearly every one of them has been extremely humble and appreciative when I acknowledge them and their accomplishments. They are all very proud of their careers, as they very well should be.
As I detailed in my article about my absolutely wonderful experience at LA Dodgers Adult Baseball (Fantasy) Camp in November of 2011, the highlight of that experience was the pleasure and honor to spend time with many former Dodgers and, in that rare instance, Yankees players. Through that experience, I came to realize that every one of these guys, including several of my childhood heroes, are just as down to earth as the rest of us and I came away with an entirely new respect for them. I also came to realize that even though these guys were having an absolute blast just like us campers were, most of these guys were hanging on to their great experiences and memories of their all-too-brief MLB careers, as they rightfully should. As I have mentioned on many occasions, there are only 750 major leaguers IN THE WORLD – and this doesn’t take into account that there were even fewer than that when many of these former baseball legends were in the game.
Perhaps we will never know exactly why guys like Steve Garvey and Kirk Gibson (and others) choose to sell their baseball treasures; things that you and I get excited about just looking at. And though many speculate that it is because these guys are having financial issues, I have a hard time buying this – especially in Kirk Gibson’s case. Granted, I am aware that Garvey made some bad business decisions after leaving the game and perhaps this is, in fact, his reasoning behind auctioning off these items, but if it is not financially based, why not donate them to the Dodgers or Padres who would undoubtedly love to have them in some type of museum or Hall of Fame, such as the Yankees and Mets have at their respective stadiums.
The other thought is that perhaps these guys have simply come to grips with the fact that their respective moments in the sun have long since passed and that these items that once meant everything in the world to them are now nothing more that dust collectors; and that very few people outside of a handful of close friends and relatives even know (or care) that they exist – so why keep them.
Whatever the reason, for us non-professional baseball people, the thought of these former players letting go of their past may seem somewhat sad or even depressing; but the bottom line is that life goes on and that even in the great game of baseball, there will always be someone new to come along and replace them – just like in the real world.