I want to tell you a story about baseball.
And the magic of a mother's love.
Each spring, baseball returns. Just like the grass and the flowers and the birds, baseball leaves in the fall and magically appears again, just as the sun begins to warm the ground.
This year, spring almost never came to Minnesota.
Because of a diabolical scheme concocted by the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, the Minnesota Twins were nearly eliminated from the sports world over the winter. Gone, extinct.
Let me tell you why this bothers me.
On Oct. 26, 1991, the Twins were facing the Atlanta Braves in game six of the World Series at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The Twins were facing elimination then, too. They were down in the best of seven series three games to two, meaning they had to win the next two games or they were out. Simple as that.
I was watching the pregame introductions with my mom in our living room at home, anxious for the game to start. When my favorite player, Kirby Puckett, was announced, I got goose bumps. I was nervous, knowing that one loss, one slip, and the Twins were done. That's when it happened.
During the national anthem, my mom told me that I didn't have anything to worry about, because Kirby was going to be the hero. She told she "just had a feeling" that he was going to save the day for the Twins.
Well, being a 14-year-old, I didn't put much stock in what my mom had to say. I laughed at her. I told her she didn't know anything about baseball, and that anything could happen. I told her there was no way such things could be predicted.
See, I was worried that by proclaiming Kirby was going to be the hero, my mother had inadvertently doomed my favorite baseball player to a night of hell. I knew that in baseball, it is entirely possible for fans to influence the outcome of the game simply by talking about it. It's called a jinx, and it can be very powerful. I was worried that my mom had jinxed Kirby, the Twins and me.
Turns out she didn't.
Kirby went out and played one of the single greatest baseball games ever. He hit an RBI triple. He made an amazing leaping catch. And in the 11th inning, with the score tied 4-4, Kirby hit a solo home run off Atlanta relief pitcher Charlie Leibrandt to win the game.
Just thinking about it still sends shivers through my body.
After the game, my mom just smiled. She never hit a home run. I don't think she even watched the whole game. But she told me what was going to happen, and when it did happen, everything was perfect. For that one night in October, everything was perfect.
The Twins came back the next night and won again to claim their second World Series title.
But what I'll remember for the rest of my life is my mother's prediction. It was almost like she had a hand in what Kirby did -- like she used some kind of magical motherly power to will Kirby on to greatness. I like to think that maybe she did.
I like the idea that if a mother wants something badly enough for her son, she can make it happen. My mom wanted me to see Kirby win the game for the Twins, and Kirby won the game.
When the Twins were again facing elimination this past winter, all I could think of was how much I wanted to see them play just one more time. For a while, it looked like that might never happen. It felt like someone was trying to steal my childhood, trying to destroy my belief that magic things really can happen.
Then, just like in 1991, they came back.
And just like that, my belief in springtime, baseball, a mother's love and all the other magical things in the world, returned.
Matt Tunseth is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.
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