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A story about my mom... and, of course, Joey Cora

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

I originally wrote this back in 2010 on my old baseball card blog which no longer exists. Since today is Mother's Day, it seemed like an appropriate time to let it see the light of day again; it's probably my favorite thing I've ever written and I know my mom liked sending people a link to it when there was one, so restoring it to publicly viewable pixels is for both of us.

My mother and I don't see eye-to-eye on much. In fact, we agree on so little that I just actually laughed audibly (IJALA) after I typed that sentence because it's such an understatement. The one thing she has always been supportive of is my love of baseball. When I was a kid, she would watch games with me on TV and each summer when we would go to visit her family in Rochester, NY, she would take me to Red Wings (AAA, then Orioles-affiliated) games, asking questions all along as she had no interest in baseball until I did. As different as we were and are, we shared and share a favorite player. I'm not sure why she liked Joey; I imagine she admired him being the little guy fighting to make his place amongst men towering over him in both stature and skill, much like a single mother struggling to make the best life possible for three kids.

At any rate, one moment always stands out to me above all others. It was Game 5 of the '95 ALDS and the "Refuse To Lose" Mariners had clawed back from losing the first two games to force a rubber match. In the third inning, Joey broke a scoreless tie by mashing a Black Jack McDowell pitch over the right field wall for a solo shot. We were ecstatic and the announcers were incredulous. Until the day I die I will never forget the call: "From an unlikely source! Joey Cora!" Of course, you know they went on to win the game and the series on Griffey's mad dash in the 11th but that's neither here nor there for the purposes of this tale.

Fourteen years pass and I'm sitting in my living room in Huntington, WV. At that point, my mother and I hadn't spoken in over two months. The last time we'd seen each other we had some sort of yelling match- probably about religion but I'm not sure. All I do know is that neither one of us was willing to concede anything. I was flipping through the channels and came across a replay of that game on MLB Network. While I remembered him hitting the "unlikely" HR, I had forgotten the game and the situation so I was as excited as I was when it happened fourteen falls before. The first thing I did- without thinking- was pull out my phone and call my mom. I'm sure she was surprised to hear my voice and probably a bit scared since I was talking so frantically. I blurted that I was watching a replay of an old Mariners game and before I could finish the sentence about what Joey did, she asked excitably "Was it the 'From an unlikely source!' game?" We talked as though there had never been any rift between us and went on to catch up on the past few months. It was amazing. After I got off the phone, I couldn't help but keep thinking how powerful baseball is. I knew before, but until that point I never grasped the magnitude; baseball can truly heal all wounds.