Secret beauty and bounty

I couldn’t get quite enough of Ryne Sandberg on Saturday, so I attended two more games before he and his boys left OKC.

During Tuesday’s game, I was sitting behind the home dugout when a foul ball rolled outside the third-base line. Sandberg picked it up, and people immediately jumped up and started shouting: “Ryno! Throw it! Hey, Ryno — over here!”

I kept quiet, watching as Sandberg gave the crowd a quick once-over, spotted a little boy sitting in the front row, and tossed him the ball.

Good form, I thought. As the guys around me let out a disappointed groan, I leaned forward to watch the little boy’s reaction, laughing as he turned excitedly to his chaperone, who was already breaking out her cell phone.

When I glanced back up, I noticed that Sandberg was watching the same scene, with the same level of delight. That alone would have made me happy — after all, it’s wonderful to find out that a celebrity is as classy as you’d hoped — but a split-second later, I caught something even better than a game ball.

I caught Ryno’s eye.

He grinned at the kid, glanced back up at me, and gave me this sort of knowing smile, as if to say: “Oh, good — you saw that, too.”

As I was mentally replaying game highlights today, I thought about that brief, silent exchange, and I remembered a line from Science and Health:

“Christians rejoice in secret beauty and bounty, hidden from the world, but known to God.”

— Mary Baker Eddy

Beauty and bounty shouldn’t be secret, and they shouldn’t be hidden. In reality, they aren’t. They’re hiding in plain sight. The trouble is that mortal mind, with its emphasis on matter, has a way of obscuring them.

Everybody saw Ryno toss that ball. But once it landed in somebody else’s hands, they lost interest.

Had the ball been the gift, that might have made sense. But Ryno’s gift wasn’t the ball. That wasn’t where the beauty and bounty were. The beauty and bounty were in the boy’s response to an act of kindness by a man he admired. Ryno’s gift was a child’s joy. And it was there for everyone to share; we just had to look past matter to see it.


23 forever

NOTE: This post supplies 100 percent of your RDA of Vitamins 2B, GG, MVP, and HoF. It also includes a massive overdose of Vitamin 23, which has been found to cause elevated estrogen levels in laboratory rats. You have been warned.

Yes, that’s who you think it is. And yes, he’s even cuter in person.

The autograph line was a bring-your-own-Sharpie kind of deal. I came prepared with two of those little keychain Sharpies — one in black, and one in Cubby blue — and let my favorite Cub choose his weapon. When he tried to pull the pen off the keychain, it slipped away from him and landed in the dirt several feet away.

I would like the record to show that I did not seize the opportunity to check out his butt when he turned around to pick up the Sharpie. (Mainly because I didn’t think of it at the time … but that’s beside the point.)

OK, I apologize for not thinking of it so I could document the occasion for posterity (or is that “document the posterior for the occasion”?) and share it with you. Mea culpa.

While I was ogling Ryno waiting in the autograph line, Ron got out his Canon and took some truly lovely shots:

How adorable is this little Cub-in-training?

Speaking of adorable, this flock of chicks joined the San Diego Chicken at the ballpark tonight. They followed him around the field like little ducks and did whatever he did — which included harassing the umpire and smacking the catcher in the butt as they walked past. (Hm. Anybody know where I can put my hands on a chicken suit before tomorrow’s game? I have an idea….)

What an awesome night. The last time I was in the same stadium as Ryne Sandberg, I was in the eighth grade. At the time, it never occurred to me that he might retire. He was just always going to be there in Chicago, waiting for me to come back and see him again.

Who could have guessed that one of my fondest baseball dreams would come true 21 years later on a hot July evening in Oklahoma City?


P.S.: The Cubs beat the Redhawks 15-7. 🙂