My wife’s never seen me cry.
Well, at least not over sports.
I’ll admit, having kids, marriage, losing loved ones, you know, normal tear-inducing events have made my eyes well up a bit.
As I am getting older, I’m discovering that different things are causing emotional stirs.
For instance, in March of 1999, I remember smashing my face into the recliner just to absorb any salty saturation from the eyeballs.
I didn’t bawl like a little baby or anything — heck, if I was Jewish, I would’ve already been considered a man two months prior when I turned 13 — but I was just emotionally invested in that Kentucky Wildcats team.
Final Fours were second nature in the Bluegrass at the time, with the Cats having reached three straight until that season.
When Michigan State dropped freshman Tayshaun Prince and the Cats in that Elite Eight game, the Spartans broke my heart too. Jerks.
Now, though, I don’t get too sad if my “team” loses. Part of that is because my profession won’t allow it. I can’t refer to the Reds or Bengals as “we” or “us” anymore. It’s frowned upon.
I can’t sit up in the press box at Commonwealth Stadium and cheer for Kentucky scoring a touchdown — many fans are even wondering how often they will be doing so this season.
It’s mostly for nostalgic reasons that I may cross the line into a cheek-wetting moment.
Movies get me.
Hollywood’s heaviest hitters, for me anyway, are Rudy and 61*.
This sounds silly, but the part that brings me to my breaking point in 61* is when Mark McGwire hits his record-breaking 62nd home run and then rushes to Roger Maris’ family to hand them the bat. Roger’s wife cries as she watches on TV from a hospital bed.
I’m usually strong enough to hold back, but it’s easy to get choked up there, as McGwire did after the game. I remember watching that live on TV as a kid, and it was just an awesome gesture on the part of McGwire.
By the way, McGwire, I realize, is a controversial figure because of being linked to steroids. And I agree that he shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame — but I would have that stance even if he wasn’t linked to PEDs. His overall numbers aren’t good enough.
So where am I going with this?
My wife and I were in section 514 at Great American Ball Park on Saturday for Barry Larkin’s number retirement.
When I told people I was going, many asked if I was going to be in the press box.
Well, one reason I wasn’t is because I grew up with Larkin — his rookie year was literally the same year I was born.
I didn’t cover him. I cheered for him. I didn’t interview him. I idolized him. I didn’t write about him. I wanted to be him.
As I’ve written about before, I was lucky enough to witness some incredible moments in the Hall of Fame shortstop’s career — walk-off hits and nifty defensive plays are some of my most memorable images of No. 11.
So, when Marty Brennaman, the voice of the Reds, eloquently introduced my favorite player, a sold-out crowd surrounding us bubbled with excitement, and then Larkin finally took the podium, he cried.
I didn’t cry with him, but it wasn’t easy.
And even if I did, my sunglasses would’ve disguised the tears.
Nah, I held back, fondly remembering a career of a lifelong Red that will always be difficult to duplicate.
Larkin is a class act, and he’s humble.
He could’ve stood up there in Cooperstown, and in Cincinnati, rattling off his accomplishments — the MVP in 1995, the first-ever 30 HR-30 SB season by a shortstop in ’96, being a main reason why the Reds shocked the nation and took it all in 1990 — but he didn’t.
And to top it all off, he showed how much of a family man he was. He plugged his daughter’s singing performance after the game to close his speech.
When I was about 10, I waited alongside members of my Knothole baseball team for an autograph from players, especially Larkin, after a game at Riverfront Stadium. I ended up with a Chris Sabo signature, which was still pretty cool. I saw Larkin, though, for a moment and from a distance. He kind of rushed out with his family and took off.
I didn’t cry then, either, and I’m glad I didn’t. I truly understand now that he wasn’t shrugging us fans off. He was simply spending that cherished time with his family. Just part of what still makes him my favorite player.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.
My wife’s never seen me cry.
- Local Sports
Boyd’s Fraley commits to Herd
Boyd County sophomore basketball player Logan Fraley has announced her commitment to Marshall University.
The 5-foot-11 shooting guard informed Marshall women’s coach Matt Daniel of her decision on Monday morning, which was confirmed by Boyd County coach/father Pete Fraley via text message.
63rd softball: Greenup leans on bunting, baserunning; Russell wins
Immersed in another district contest with little breathing room, Greenup County softball coach Eric Keeton resorted to the strengths of his lineup: bunting and baserunning.
Two bunts and a swinging bunt helped the Lady Musketeers scratch across three runs in the fifth inning of a 6-2 victory over Raceland in the 63rd District Tournament opening round on Monday night at Russell High School. Top-seeded Russell defeated Lewis County, also 6-2, earlier in the evening.
Boyd pounds out 11 hits to go along with Grimm’s shutout, 14-0
Robbie Shivel might be a little sore after Monday night, but it was Fairview that left the game battered and bruised.
Boyd County belted out 11 hits to go along with Dylan Grimm's complete-game gem as the Lions roared past Fairview, 14-0, in the opening round of the 64th District Tournament at Ashland's Alumni Field. The game lasted five innings.
Different look, same results for Lady Lions
A longtime fixture in the 64th District softball championship game, Boyd County looked different this return trip.
The Lady Lions defeated Fairview 10-5 in Monday’s district semifinal, which doubled as an Autism Awareness Night. Boyd County players wore light blue shirts and colorful, jigsaw puzzle socks for the event, which had to be rescheduled more than once due to weather problems.
Musketeers explode in final 2 innings to beat Raceland; good times continue for Lewis
Through the first four innings of its 63rd District Tournament opener, Greenup County found itself hitless. The Musketeers made up for it over the next two innings.
Greenup County scored eight runs on eight hits in the final two innings to defeat Raceland, 9-1, at Russell High School on Monday.
The will to win
Opponents get the same look from Emily Stewart whether it’s softball, basketball or soccer season.
Steely eyed and lips pursed, the Boyd County senior is keenly focused and all business between the lines.
THE WEEKLY CYCLE: Holding the key to upset city?
It takes only one game. Few are more firm believers in that fact than the small schools that find themselves in underdog roles year after year.
Locals struggle to make impact
Some days you are the windshield and some days you are the bug.
It is a saying that proved to be all too true for Rowan County on Friday night at the KHSAA Class 2A State Track and Field Championships at the University of Louisville’s Owsley Frazier Cardinal Park.
Womack eliminated in state semis; Rose Hill, Russell doubles also ousted
Fairview senior Kennedy Womack wasn’t her consistent self in Saturday morning’s state tennis semifinals at the University of Kentucky’s Hilary Boone Tennis Complex.
As a result, the top seed fell to Lexington Sayre sophomore Madeline Rolph 6-1, 6-0.
Womack was obviously disappointed with her finish, especially after losing in last year’s state finals, but she was happy for her good friend Rolph.
If Fairview could have fielded a combined track and field team at Saturday’s Class A State Track and Field Championships, the Eagles and Lady Eagles would have had a record day. Instead, the Fairview girls had to “settle” for fifth, while the boys’ claimed 10th.
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