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Phoebe at 19: A Look Back

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I remember when Phoebe's baseball fixation emerged: at a Pirates vs.  Indians game in Cleveland. She just absorbed it like a little sponge, and she wanted more. It was something about seeing baseball live, in a stadium with lots of cheering fans, at night, with the lights. Something set a hook that night, and she'd be forever enthralled. June 29, 2011.

Phoebe had just turned 15 in July 2011 when a mysterious box arrived in the mail. I had just gotten my first iPhone, and didn't really know how to run it. By mistake, I had my camera set to Video. Oops. I couldn't figure out how to get it back to Photo in time, so I made one of my very first videos of her opening the box. From the very beginning, Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen has held a special place in her heart. Her room is full of McCutchen memorabilia to this day. So it seemed only right and proper to get her a signed baseball. Our dear friend Mimi, cousin to the delightful Pirates commentator Greg Brown, engineered it and had it sent to our house!

The backstory on this video is cool. It was so sweet of Greg Brown to send that signed ball to Phoebe, and we were so grateful, that I sent him a thank-you email with a link to the video within. Well, Greg went and found Cutch and showed him this video, and he wrote me back to tell me that Andrew got "just as emotional as Phoebe" when he saw it.

As I'm writing this, the sounds of an Allstar game are coming from the living room.  Phoebe's explaining something to Liam about how players get selected for Allstars games. Something about leagues and standings and I don't know what. She's like a walking baseball encyclopedia, and the rest of us (Bill excepted) can only look things up.

We went to two Pirates games on two successive weekends this July, in honor of Phoebe's 19th birthday. We went because she is home this summer and we sense this may be her last one here. She was adamant that she didn't want to be at PNC Park on her birthday, July 11, though, because if the Pirates happened to lose to the Cardinals on that night of all nights, she might never recover. So we watched the July 11 game at home, and it was a bloody slugfest with a thoroughly nasty and (we can only surmise) legally blind umpire who made not one but TWO hideously wrong calls that robbed the Pirates of any hope of prevailing. I have never, ever seen Phoebe as outraged, furious and inconsolable as she was when that happened. But her beloved Bucs clawed their way back and beat the Cardinals anyway with a walkoff homer by none other than Andrew McCutchen in the fourteenth torturous inning. What a birthday present, delivered well after midnight.  Figures that Cutch would have a hand in Phoebe's best birthday present, twice in a row.

The night of July 12, when the Pirates beat the Cardinals with a line drive by Gregory Polanco, whom we saw play in Charleston WV when he was on the Pirates' farm team. He looked like a baby giraffe then. He doesn't any more. We stayed at PNC on the night of July 12 until the last fan left, just basking in the glory of the win. It was the most fabulous game. Here, the two biggest Pirates fans on the planet share a victory whoop. We drove all the way home on fumes, arriving at 3:40 AM. It was worth every yawn. Plus, we couldn't afford a Pittsburgh hotel. That dough's going straight to Bowdoin.

I have Phoebe to thank for helping me understand what baseball is all about, for modeling sports fandom for someone who truly started out without a clue how to care. I get it, Fee. And I love the Pirates, too, as much as the unwashed can love a sports team. 

Oh, that ball in the 2011 video? Cutch has signed it now three times. I'm sure he enjoys seeing Phoebe grow up as much as we do. Needless to say, he remembers "Miss Phoebe" and gives her a warm greeting and a big smile each time he sees her. Well, who wouldn't?

The other great love in Phoebe's life (besides baseball) was not able to come visit for her birthday as he has the last two years. Sad face. So we felt we had to put on a little extra DOG for her this year. But psst, don't worry, I'm taking her to Boston with me when I give three talks July 21, 22 and 23 (see left sidebar for details).

Chet Baker loves to kiss Phoebe. He kisses her so much sometimes he gets a little carried away and nibbles her. We call it nibble kissing.

Sometimes he gets REALLY carried away and it hurts just a bit! You never know what that dog is going to do!

Mostly, though, he kind of collapses around her now. Resistance is futile.

That little girl has grown up. Hey 19. You're beautiful! Happy birthday! OK! I'm done now!


Tues. July 21, Cambridge : Mount Auburn Cemetery's Story Chapel, 6 pm. "Situational Awareness and the Art of Disappearing"  I'm over the moon to be speaking at this sacred place that saved me over the five years when I had to live in the city. You know, to get that book learnin'. Click here for details.

Weds. July 22, the Town of Harvard: Fruitlands, 7 pm.  Fruitlands Reads Author Lecture, "Letters From Eden" An all-new talk based on the concept of Eden, and gratitude. Click here for details.  

Thurs. July 23. Topsfield Fair, 11:30 am. Down to Earth: Massachusetts Nusery and Landscape Association Annual Conference. "Personal Habitat: The Bird-friendly Backyard," an all-new talk about making your yard an Eden for birds, and for you. Click here for details.


The video with Phoebe getting the baseball had me in tears as well, and I don't even care for baseball. But then the one with her and Chet Baker had me laughing along with it, so my emotions were all over the place with just one post! I love watching your family grow up!

Posted by Anonymous July 19, 2015 at 4:21 AM

If you want a bit of heaven, come stay with me in March and see some Pirates spring training. We'd live to host you all. I am serious, not just saying it.

March this year was awesome for Manatees too, so you could knock out Baseball and Seacows if you visit Cathy (Island Rider) she's an author with her own horses.
She is also NOT an ax murderer as I have had lunch wirh her and survived just fine. ")

Ha!! Sounds like Spring Break to me! Phoebe and Bill did go down to Bradenton for a wild weekend of Pirates spring training in '15. We will put this in the hopper! I might be canoodling with seacows while they watch game after game...

The Pirates have that power. I attended a home game while on a business trip in 2010 (before they were good) and now I'm hooked for life.

Happy Birthday Phoebe! I love the Chet Melt--how adogable. And the video of you getting the signed baseball--I was in happy tears too. You have such a wonderful family. <3

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