This is back in 1995, when my younger son, Ben, was 10 years old, and we sent him down to Florida to visit his grandparents.
His grandpa took him to a spring training game in Fort Myers — either the Twins or Red Sox vs. the visiting Yankees — and Ben did what all 10-year-olds do in those circumstances. He got as close as he could and begged for autographs.
One player in a Yankees uniform complied.
Ben came home with the autographed ball a week later and showed it to me.
I regarded the signature and said:
“Ben, I’ve never heard of him. He’s a minor leaguer. The ball isn’t worth anything.
And Ben sighed, and he decided the ball WAS worth something. It was worth what all baseballs are worth.
And he took it outside and played with it. And played with it. And we played catch and we hit it and it scuffed in the grass and it went in the mud and it scraped the pavement and before you knew it, the stitches were ripping and the signature was gone.
And that’s why Ben no longer has a baseball autographed by Andy Pettitte in his rookie year.
Today, 18 years later, Andy Pettitte announced his retirement.
My friend Zach swears he’s a future Hall of Famer. I don’t agree, but I’ll concede he comes close.
And Ben has no autographed baseball.
Sorry, son. My fault.
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