The person I was supposed to play catch with today had to cancel due to wintery weather stuff, so I emailed Tom and asked if there was any conceivable way he’d be up for a game. I first met Tom when I worked as a grant writer for Ozarks Literacy Council. OLC was invited on to Ozarks Live to talk about our work growing new readers and upcoming Trivia Night fundraiser. We aired the same day as Krispy Kreme debuted their special eclipse-themed donuts. Donuts are one of my favorite food groups; I was disappointed not to get a sample.
Through the first 37 days of this quixotic endeavor, the vast majority of my email invitations have gone unanswered. No word (yet) from Bo Jackson or Kevin Costner or Sean Astin or Joe Posnanski or the Kansas City Royals. I did not actually expect Tom to respond, much less respond so quickly.
Nor did I anticipate an invitation back to the show.
Tom and I met on the grass in front of the KOLR-10 studio and Joy followed us with a camera. I always get nervous in front of a camera because I’m tempted to think about looking “good” while throwing the ball — looking like players do on baseball cards or highlight reel footage — instead of just having fun.
In this project, there aren’t any performance expectations. It’s not about being “good enough” or “athletic enough.” No scorekeeping. No judgment. No errors. The whole point is to get outside, to have fun, to meet new people and tell stories while tossing a ball.
Tom is a Chicago White Sox fan unless he’s talking to a St. Louis Cardinals fan in which case he’s a Chicago Cubs fan. I found that statement absolutely hilarious. His favorite player was Luis Aparicio and he grew up playing catcher, as did his brothers. When I commented that today is Dan Quisenberry’s birthday, we each threw the ball sidearmed a couple of times.
The transition from catch to TV was quick. I grabbed my Satchel glove and Sophie’s “Wanna play catch?” ball as conversation props. Eric, a friend from college and videographer, greeted me and made me laugh. I think he could feel my nervousness halfway across the room.
I remember answering Bo Jackson is who I’d most like to play catch with, but aside from that question, I have no idea what I said. I promise to post the video footage soon.
After the interview, Tom asked, “Do you ever remember getting in an argument with someone when you were playing catch with them?”
Immediately, I answered, “Well, yes I do.”
“Was it because they were throwing the ball so hard and had no control whatsoever?”
Tom had the idea that I should go to the United Nations and play catch and have conversations with international dignitaries.
“Goodwill ambassador of catch playing and storytelling” does have a pretty cool ring to it.