Professional is sports is an eternal childhood. Not that athletes act like children, but they get paid a lot of money to play a children’s game. It’s inspiring, whimsical, and, yes, at times madening. Why should these games matter so much?
I suppose sports fans all have different answers to that question. However, legendary pitchers Don Larsen and Jim Palmer may have figured out an answer. And it has very little to do with baseball.
Both of these men are auctioning off some of their infamous memorabilia. Larsen is selling the jersey he wore when he pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Palmer is selling his three CY Young awards and two of his Gold Glove trophies.
Are they doing this because they are in dire straits? Nope. Palmer is donating some of the profits to an autism charity and the rest will help go to pay for his grandchildren’s education. Larsen’s earnings will go to pay for the education of his grandchildren, as well.
Fans and the media put athletes in to a time warp when the enter the pros. We forget that players have families outside of their team. We don’t expect change (other than their stats) from the time they enter to the time they retire. They get married, have kids, and build personal lives, just like the rest of us. (Only with a lot more money.)
This auction reminds me of a commencement speech given by one of my favorite teachers in high school. He recalled a scene from the movie Raging Bull where boxer Jake LaMotta is hard up for cash and decides to sell his championship belt. However, he hammers off all of the jewels because that is what he believes is really valuable. However, the belt is then rendered worthless and the pawn shop broker tells him so. LaMotta is crushed. My teacher reminded us to, “Never settle for jewels in handkerchief.”
Larsen and Palmer seem to have heeded my teachers advice. They’ve realized that their stuff is really just old cotton and oddly shaped wall decorations. They know the answer to what matters with these games. The things that come after.
By the way, if you’re in the market for some baseball hardware, expect to shell out some big bucks. Palmer’s Gold Gloves could get about $15,000 and the CY Young’s about $80,000. Larsen’s jersey could cost you a cool two million. Now, those are some adult numbers.