The Retiree by Jerry Hoem

In the bottom of my t-shirt drawer I found a Minnesota Twins shirt. It’s 37 years old, and has been at the bottom of that drawer for quite some time. Not that I don’t like it, but it just doesn’t get into the regular t-shirt rotation. If I remember right, this is baseball season, although the reporters on TV seem to cling to hockey and basketball, with some football tossed in.

I wore the shirt to exercise class the other day. B-1 and J-2 wear sport-related shirts, and T sometimes does, so I fit right in. There are some Iowa State shirts, too, but I normally ignore anything that says Iowa someplace on it.

“Hey, you have a Twins shirt,” said J-3, and J-2 gave a thumbs-up. One of them has an outdated Vikings shirt, so he understands old.

“It’s a little old,” I said. “I suppose the 1991 date makes it a collector’s item, but I don’t really have a collection. Wife has a nice Minnesota North Stars shirt far down in her shirt rotation.” Using some grade school shirts from the Caribbean, she could find enough sporty stuff to start another quilt.

A group of exercists assembled over in a corner before class. I spurred on the conversation with some baseball talk, asking if Zoilo and Harmon were still playing, mentioning other stars, like Bob Feller, Satchel Paige, Honus Wagner, Babe Barna— did he ever made it to the big leagues—Les Kouba, George Mikan, Equipoise, Whirlaway, Whitey Skoog, Bernie Bierman, Kenny Bartholomew, Mel Ott, Bruce Smith; the greats whose names I will always remember.

Somehow, nobody seemed to be impressed with my baseball knowledge. When I mentioned the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Saint Louis Browns, they went back to their chairs and sat down to wait for the class. And commenting on the Boston Braves impressed nobody. The women turned their backs on all of us, deciding to recount their quilting experiences and discuss various skin preparations.

Well, I don’t care if there are new players and teams out there. I understand it’s the short-term memory that goes first. To me that means eventually I will remember the current sports characters. I won’t forget the old ones.

I remember the old sports venues, too. I have a brick from Memorial Stadium. I went to a game at the old Met Stadium before the Senators came to Minnesota. I watched the Lakers play in the Minneapolis Armory. I saw the Millers play at Nicollet Stadium. I watched hockey played on 26th and Dupont Avenue South. I saw the Homerdome go flat. I watched softball at Parade Stadium, along with some parades. Satchel Paige and Pogo Possum are two of my favorite philosophers. Their comments are worth remembering. Satchel said, “Never look back. Something might be gaining on you.” Pogo said, “Woe is us.” That about sums up life.

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