ELDER L. Tom Perry relates this story about his family's memories:
Recently, I reached
one of those time-dictated milestones in my life—the experience of a seventieth
birthday. The family organized a birthday party and invited all of the
immediate family to join in. My brother felt it was important enough to drive
all the way from Seattle to be with us. Another one drove from Cache Valley. My
sisters were already in Salt Lake, and they were the ones, along with my wife,
who arranged the celebration.
There in the presence
of those who mean the most to me, my family, I had a very enjoyable time. The
evening was filled with stories and events which brought back a flood of memories. When the time
arrived for the time-honored tradition of opening birthday gifts, my son came
forward and said, “At last I’ve found just the right gift for you,” and he
handed me a baseball bat with a white stocking over the end. My first reaction
was, “A baseball bat at seventy years of age?”
I pulled off the white
stocking, and then I understood why it was a perfect gift.
On the end of the bat
was imprinted “Adirondack, Willie Mays’ Personal Model,” with the actual
signature of Willie Mays.
This bat was a symbol
of many great memories. I recalled a special birthday that had occurred thirty years
earlier. We had just moved from California to New York. We had left our
favorite baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, and Willie Mays, who was, of
course, their star.
On this special
birthday, Willie and the Giants were in New York playing the Mets. My son had
saved his money and purchased two tickets as his birthday present to me that
year. I came home from work early that day so we’d have time to make the long,
traffic-filled drive to the Mets ballpark for the start of the game. We bought
a hot dog, a Seven-Up, and a bag of popcorn and settled in our seats to watch
Willie Mays beat the Mets. The game was tied at 4 to 4 at the end of nine
innings. Willie’s record was four at-bats and zero hits. I said to my son, “We
have a long drive home, and I have to get up early to catch the train into the
city for a meeting.” His response was, “Willie won’t be up until next inning.
Let’s watch him bat once more.”
The same response came
after the eleventh, the twelfth, the thirteenth, and the fourteenth innings—and
on up to the twenty-third inning. Now it was after midnight, and the drive home
was well over an hour. Each time I suggested leaving, his response was, “Let’s
watch Willie bat one more time.”
Then, in the first of
the twenty-third inning, Willie came to bat and drove the ball over the
centerfield fence. Of course, we finished watching the last of the twenty-third
inning to be certain the Giants would win 5 to 4.
We arrived home at
2:30 A.M. I wasn’t at my best in the meetings the following day, but I had
a lasting memory to cherish. Now a piece of wood, a baseball bat, stands in the
corner of my office to remind me of a father-son relationship filled with so
many great memories.