I have a 1966 baseball card that has Mickey Mantle on it. It’s a collector’s item. It may look like a baseball card to you. To me, it’s a bridge to a shared past. It was given to me by my older brother Craig, who is 22 months older than me.
When we grew up, we were inseparable. We played baseball together—we listened to baseball games together. Of course, he would beat me up. I was the younger brother who tried to get in one good punch to make it all even. He would also protect me from older kids in the neighborhood who would pick on me. And I can say with a high degree of assurance that anything illegal or unlawful I ever did in my youth was the direct result of the influence of my older brother.
Craig gave the Mickey Mantle card to me for Christmas when I was 45 years old. Other people in the family thought it was crazy to give a 45-year-old a baseball card. But to me, it was a reaffirmation that something we had was special and important: the shared background and shared memories. It’s something no one can ever take away.
I find myself separated from my older brother by time and distance and a professional career, and we feel disconnected. We miss each other. I can pick up this baseball card and I feel better.
Several years ago Duke University upset UNLV in a national championship game. After the game, Coach K was asked, ‘How did your young group of kids beat this experienced team?’ He said, ‘It’s because we had Grant Hill.’ He said having Grant Hill on the team was like going somewhere with your big brother. He said when he went somewhere with his older brother he always felt safe, he always felt confident, he always felt protected, he always felt that he would be okay. I knew exactly what he meant.
Years after we sat up at night listening to Yankees games together, and playing baseball together, Craig gave this to me because he knew it would mean something to me like nothing else could. It’s probably the best gift I ever received.
[…] People in the family thought it was crazy to give a 45-year-old a baseball card. But to me, it was a reaffirmation that something we had was special and important: the shared background and shared memories.Mark Merritt