Chapter 11: When childhood heroes turn into real-life villains before your very eyes

March 15, 2012 | Nestor Aparicio

Chapter 11: When childhood heroes turn into real-life villains before your very eyes

and stories. (We both loved the memorabilia side of things at that time. I gave that up about 15 years ago. I only collect my own pictures and ticket stubs and press passes these days, but as my wife and this little montage will tell, I have EVERYTHING — every ticket stub, every picture, every story, every guitar pick, EVERYTHING from my sports and music lives.)

Ted Patterson had been around the game in Baltimore for about 15 years, which compromised about 95 percent of my life at that point. I was 17 on this particular day and I was enjoying my first season as a genuine media member who could rub up against the people I’d read, seen and heard around town. Ted Patterson, like John Steadman, Vince Bagli, Tom Davis and others of that ilk, were absolutely HEROES to me.

I didn’t “worship” them in that autograph kind of way, but I always wanted to hear their stories about sports and the business and players and coaches. I wanted to learn from them because I wanted to BE them one day.

No doubt about it, I thought that spending my life chasing around athletes and rock stars and having a forum to write and talk about what I’d seen, heard and did would be a fun way to live.

And you know what, 22 years later I’m still stealing money. I really am!

I realized early on that I was NEVER going to be Reggie Jackson — I just wasn’t a good enough ballplayer or born with those skills — but I COULD one day be a John Steadman or a Vince Bagli.

And it never felt like “work” to me. It still doesn’t most days, except of course, when I have to deal with the Orioles. They drove me into retirement two years ago! (Hey, maybe I should be holding a “Thank You Orioles Day” instead of The Rally on Sept. 21?)

But I digress…

Ted and I were discussing sports memorabilia (and again, I was a pretty big goober for baseball cards and programs and ticket stubs…as big a goober as you’d find in a Dundalk kid, and that’s saying something!). He had mentioned something about a 1969 All Star Game program from R.F.K. Stadium. I happened to have one. Ted said that he knew Reggie pretty well and Reggie was looking for one to add to his collection (he played in the game in 1969 but didn’t have a program). I lived 10 minutes away on Kane Street and literally drove home during the game to get the program. Ted said he’d compensate me with something cool later if I gave him the program to give to Reggie. Great! Reggie Jackson is going to own MY 1969 All Star Game program.

I got back to the ballpark, the Reggie “moment” happened in the game and the game ended with the O’s on top.

Ted and I went into the clubhouse (and my boss, Jack Gibbons, HATED when I went into the clubhouse when I didn’t have an agenda or was really working on a story) and found Reggie to give him the program. The media did their thing, asked him some questions and he was discussing how that pitch he popped up on was one that he would’ve driven earlier in his career when he was a younger man. He basically said what we all knew: he was getting older (he had just turned 40 and would hit just .241 that year and his career was over less than 15 months later).

I followed his comment with a question, something a kid would ask but a relatively benign one: “Hey Reggie,” I said. “How is it different to face a Don Aase now vs. a Nolan Ryan or a Jim Palmer 10 years ago?”

What followed to this day, more than 20 years later, still blows my mind.

He glanced at me and laid the wood to me, a 17-year old kid.

“Who the fuck are you?” he sneered at me. “Who let this f**king kid in

Comments on Facebook

Leave a Reply