Old Man Look At My Life
When I was a little boy, somewhere in the 10- to 12-year-old age range, I had a very full, very rich, very REAL fantasy life in addition to school and boyhood sports and piano lessons. Much of my virtual reality centered on a combination of show business and sports, particularly baseball. I made up cities, teams, players, their lives and backgrounds and what they did... it was very involved.
Some of my ideas came from the books I read as a child: Jules Verne; Kenneth Grahame; a little-known writer named Tex Maule; and my favorite childhood reading: "A Treasure Chest of Sports Stories."
This last book contained some 10-12 stories of men and women, all fictional, performing great feats in a variety of athletic events: swimming, basketball, hockey, and (of course) baseball. Two stories have stuck with me for my entire life: "Lay It Down Ziggy" by Larry Siegel, where a major league manager hires a trick bunter to entertain the locals. And my all-time favorite: "We Won't Be Needing You, Al."
I won't go into the story of the protagonist, but I've lived my life in the shadow of the theme, where a career minor leaguer has one last shot at glory. My brother Tony and I often quote the book, I wrote my own (updated) version for a class in high school, and it's never far from my thoughts on any given day. The book was written by a Canadian, Scott Young, who had a solid and prolific career as a reporter, sports writer and columnist in Toronto.
As my brothers and I became teens, we immersed ourselves in rock and pop music. Some of the first tunes I learned by ear, imitating what I heard on AM radio in the 1970s, were a song called "Heart of Gold" and another called "After The Gold Rush," both by Neil Young. A talented musician and songwriter, with a gift for metaphor and writing in addition to his great ability as a guitarist and piano player, I have purchased most if not all of his albums. His songs were often written in the key of C or D, making it easy for a fledgling kid in the Midwest to learn, and I've been a Neil Young fan ever since.
I was in Toronto, Ontario last week. I picked up my brother and my nieces, and our conversation (naturally) turned to Scott Young and Neil Young. Tony has lived in Canada's biggest city for more than a decade. It was a thrill years ago when he discovered that Scott Young, the author we loved so much, is a Canadian icon. A park where his daughter's played as children is named for him. Scott Young is well known to a certain generation of Canadians and not just because his youngest child, Neil, is considered one of the great rock musicians of all time.
Funny how things are all connected. Scott Young and Neil Young, two people who had huge influence on my life, are father and son. I don't believe in irony, and coincidence doesn't really exist. Everything happens for a reason.
Thanks for reading!