Monday, July 9, 2001

My Noddin Noggin (Part 6)

One of the saddest things in the world to witness is an athlete who hangs on a year or two too long trying to live the glory of the moment just a little while longer. Athletes such as Johnny Unitas, Willie Mays, Muhammad Ali etc. probably know that their own skills have diminished but still see that they can outperform many other peers and contribute in a small way. Still it is sad to see such great artists perform at a level less than what we have known.

That is the very reason that I have decided after a couple years of a proud accomplishment in my own small way to step aside and give in to the efforts of time. Now granted, my 36 years on this planet haven't exactly produced a plethora of hall of fame moments but there are a few achievements that stick out in my mind as noteworthy and not a complete waste of the share of air I've consumed. How about that time in sixth grade when I was named "Citizen of the Year?" Or still holding the Secretary of State's corporate information line record for answering the most phone calls within a day's work (383)? Or completing a college education and eventually becoming a homeowner? How about being the only winner of the prestigious Mansky award for winning an election administration trivia contest at a statewide training session? Or finally becoming a published writer?

Yup all that looks good on a resume but none of it can compare with the effort it has taken to collect all the bobbleheads the Twins' have given out the past two seasons. Seeing there were only 5,000 of the first two dolls (Killebrew and Hrbek) there must be only a few hundred at the most who have all the dolls given away. And believe me it's no small wonder that my friend Gary and I have spent many an hour sitting on hard concrete, fending off the dreaded precious few who think they can show up at the last minute, cut in line, and get a bobblehead as the riot level builds to a perceptible level.

Yup it's been quite the challenge to have on my desk the noddin heads of Killebrew, Hrbek, Oliva, Puckett, Blyleven, and Carew. They represent what can be accomplished when one puts his determined mind to finishing off what needs to be done to accomplish a personal goal.

Two winters ago when the Twins announced the bobblehead promotion I decided it would be quite the house decorating project to buy four marble stands, get all the bobblehead dolls and place one in each corner of my living room for a conversation piece. Little did I know how popular the dolls would become.

The first giveaway (Killebrew) we were extremely lucky to be one of the few to get a doll. We showed up a mere hour before the gates opened without a ticket, and out of sheer luck met each other at a place other than the planned meeting location. A fellow co-worker who arrived before me at another gate didn't get a doll.

The rest of the giveaways Gary and I were better prepared. By the Puckett doll, the last one done last year, we arrived at 8:00 a.m. as the gates were to open at noon. We were among the last few to get a doll at our gate.

This year for the Blyleven and Carew dolls we got down to the dome at noon, a full five hours before the gates were to open. This last time we played a couple of rounds of that popular board game "Nine Men's Morris" to try a kill the deadly time that creeps along sitting next to ticketholders from Mankato to Hopkins hoping to get the doll of arguably the team's greatest player of all time, and the hitter I've patterned my own deteriorating game after, Sir Rodney.

Gary and I had mutually decided this was our final effort of participating in the bobblehead mania. At some point we weren't going to get one unless we were willing to get downtown earlier and earlier to fight for our spot in line. It felt better to determine our own fate and walk away on our own terms.

As I was handed my Carew doll to the grumbling of a hungry stomach, the sense of relief mirrored the sense of accomplishment. Being a Twins' fan is a trendy thing to be again but the replicas of the heroes from my past proudly remind me that I have continued to participate all along.

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