In the summer when I turned seven, I came out of Capitol Drug in White Bear Lake with some packs of baseball cards. Standing on the sidewalk, I opened my treasures and . . . YES! . . . there was a card of Minnesota Twins first baseman Don Mincher! I couldn’t wait to show my dad!
When I was around four, my mom had prepped me for my dad’s arrival home from work on a day when the Twins played an afternoon game. My dad was a huge baseball fan, so when he came through the door at dinner time, I proudly announced “Don Minser hit a home wun and da Twins win!” My dad couldn’t have been prouder!
My dad and I shared a love of baseball. I used to sit on his lap with my baseball cards, cover up the names and have him guess who they were. We also used to trade initials. “Give me one!” I’d say, and he’d think for a moment, then say, “J.G.” “Jim Grant!” I guessed. If that wasn’t it, I’d go to Junior Gilliam, Jim Gentile, Julio Gotay or Jerry Grote. It was a great game for car rides. I remember getting him twice in a row with “J.C.”—Jim Campbell. I don’t know if he was humoring me or if he was paying more attention to his driving, but it’s a great memory that has stayed with me all these years.
My mom was also very loving and supportive of my baseball mania. I remember her surprising me with a box of baseball cards on a family trip when I was seven (I still remember getting Steve Barber, a pitcher for the Orioles). And it was her idea to take me out of school whenever a Twins player was featured at an autograph session at a local bank (see photos below). I couldn’t have asked for two better parents.
When I was in grade school, Dad went out in the back yard with a shovel, dug a couple of holes, and installed a pitching rubber and a wooden home plate. I had a pretty mean curveball, and he’d crouch behind home plate and I’d pitch to him. Countless times during my kidhood, when he’d come home from work, I’d be waiting with my bat and glove and say our code phrase, “Hit me some?” I don’t remember him ever saying no. We’d drive to the baseball diamond at the park a few blocks away, and he’d hit me fly balls until dinner.
So there I was, standing on the sidewalk outside of Capitol Drug with a couple of my friends. A few “big kids” (they must have been in at least fourth grade!) on their bikes nearby were also unwrapping some wax packs of cards. When they heard I had a Don Mincher card, they asked to see it. Caught off guard, I meekly shook my head no. But when one of the big kids offered to give me two of his cards just to see my Mincher card, I naively handed it over to him. Immediately, he took off on his bike, clutching my precious card and laughing. I could hear him saying “Stupid kid” to his buddies as I chased after him in tears.
I cried all the way home. My dad was downstairs, grouting the shower. I can still see him in his paint-stained weekend work clothes looking up at me as I walked downstairs. Sobbing, I told him the story and he gave me a big hug.
I don’t know how many days or weeks went by, but one day in the mail, there was an envelope for me. Imagine my excitement when I pulled out a photo of Don Mincher and saw this note on the back:
I don’t think a seven-year-old kid could have been any happier. I’ve treasured that photo for over forty years—not for the autograph, but for the love my mom showed me by writing a letter to the Twins and explaining what had happened.
Thanks, Mom and Dad. Don Mincher was my favorite baseball player, but you’ll always be my heroes.
MINNESOTA TWINS PHOTO GALLERY
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ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the one book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.
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