The Bryan Family Millennium Falcon is back in the shop. Merry Christmas to me. It’s been such a fantastic vehicle over the years, and I trust Rick and David and all of the staff of All Pro Automotive, which is directly across the street from Fun Acre. Six months after Jamie and I got married, both of our cars died. As a family of two, our first major purchases were used Hondas from them. I memorized (and still have it memorized) the VIN while we did the paperwork. The great thing about All Pro is they know us and do what’s best for us. I just wish the Fun Acre batting cages were open.
Springfield has the best local businesses.
I met Haleigh because of one such business.
Mom used to meet with her book club at Garden Café. Initially, I wasn’t impressed with the name, until I met the people and tried the food.
Autographed pictures of Springfield and St. Louis Cardinals covered the walls, as did bobbleheads and other baseball memorabilia.
Garden Café was owned by Dean and Cindy and their daughter Haleigh, a Cardinals super-fan.
From the first time we met, Haleigh has asked me about my favorite players and why I liked the Royals and I always had a great time talking baseball with her. The very first time I met Bill and Shirley Virdon, we had lunch at Garden Café. Before we left, Haleigh gave Bill a hug.
“He used to play for the Cardinals, you know.”
She gave me a high five.
After getting to know Haleigh, I made certain to wear a Royals shirt every single time I went there to eat.
The only people who know more baseball players than Haleigh are those who have played professional baseball.
Several years ago, when Haleigh was about 15, she and her dad went to the Cardinals Winter Warm-Up. They were in line to get an autograph and stood near the typical autograph hounds who love such an event. While in line, Haleigh started talking to the people nearest her telling them that she knew the players.
Those who heard her claims didn’t exactly believe her.
Until they reached the front of the line.
Joe Kelly spotted her and called out, “Hey Haleigh! How are you doing? How are your parents and the restaurant?”
The sweetest of validation.
These days, her favorite players are Carlos Martinez and Yadier Molina and she has multiple gloves covered in autographs accrued from years as a Springfield season ticket holder. Today’s glove featured Scott Bailes and Matt Carpenter and approximately 30 other signatures.
Haleigh played catch just a few weeks ago as her Miracle League season ended the week before Thanksgiving. She played for the Rockies and is the rarest of all ballplayers — a southpaw shortstop.
We met at the Miracle League field and found a dry space to play catch under the pavilion. As we tossed the ball, Haleigh peppered me with questions about which players I have met. She simply has the best baseball memory I’ve ever witnessed, perfectly recalling games and plays and players over the past decade.
We finally found a common ground in two places: Wilson Ball Gloves and Kickapoo High School, which earned me another high five.
Next summer, I’ve gotta find a way to go to a ballgame with Haleigh. I bet it’s an epic experience.
Merry Christmas from Nate (Day #149) and Baseball Seams Company!
The e-book of America at the Seams is free — follow the link!