As the month ticks over and we start to head once more into postseason baseball, the time has come for me to get reacquainted with an old friend.
We met last summer on a hot afternoon in Cooperstown, NY. My wife’s family owns a house just outside of the village, and every year we spend a week up there. Thanks to that, I was able to make the timing work out so I could be there for a very special Hall of Fame weekend. This one to be exact:
Though the most instructive souvenir I would receive that day was the epic sunburn on what felt like the entire left side of my body (wear sunscreen kids), my favorites were the Bagwell Cooperstown Collection jersey and cap I purchased that day.
I’ve worn that jersey exactly 20 times. The day of the induction, all 18 games of the 2017 postseason, and during a pilgrimage to the Hall of Fame this past summer to see the Astros’ World Series display. But other than that it has waited patiently in my closet, gently nestled between my Springer jersey and one of the old brick-red numbers. But that all changes this Friday.
My wife doesn’t get it. She doesn’t understand why I brought it with me when we went on vacation last October (after ensuring I could watch playoff games). She doesn’t get why it matters so much to slip it on just before the game starts and why I have to wear the cap at the same time. She laughed when I told her I can’t let the jersey turn inside out when I carefully take it off after every game. She rolls her eyes and tells my daughter that I have to get my “baseball shirt” because the Astros won’t win if I don’t.
The funny thing is that she thinks she’s joking.
Maybe it’s silly to be a grown man who believes in the magic of wearing a particular article of clothing to help your team win. I mean, there certainly is a chance that Houston could win a game if I don’t wear it, but why risk it? I won’t have it said that I didn’t do everything I was capable of to help the team win.
And really, that’s what this is about. These little rituals and traditions make us feel like we’re part of the team, almost like we’re there with them even when we’re so far away. Of course the victories come off the athletic prowess of the team we root for, but at the same time I can’t help but believe that the ball bounced to just the right spot, or went just a little bit further because I believed just a little bit more.
So, come Friday, you’ll find me in the same chair wearing that same jersey just like in 2017. And, if I believe just enough, I know that I won’t be putting it away for at least 11 more wins.