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Magical Moments

Life is boring. Mundane. Days and days of schedules, routines, and in many cases, wasted time. This is a rather pessimistic way of looking at life, but, when you stop and think about it, what were the most exciting moments you experienced in the last week? How about in the last month? In the last year?

At the time of this writing, I have spent 23,223 days on this Earth, and I struggle to come up with ten events I have experienced that were truly historical. When you realize that one of these moments is about to happen, you take note and relish the experience.

That is why I put together detailed plans for Wednesday, August 23, 1989.

My wife Suzanne, and I took the day off from work and picked up our nephews, Alan, and Tim. We packed a cooler with sandwiches, snacks, and drinks and headed west to Frederick, Maryland. Now, I know you are thinking, “What magical, perhaps historical moment, could possibly take place in Frederick, MD?” Well, most days you would have a valid question. However, on this day, magic was indeed about to happen. Me, Suzanne, Alan, and Tim knew we would be experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime event that evening.

We arrived at our destination, McCurdy Field, at about one o'clock in the afternoon. We were not surprised we were the first in line as the event wouldn’t begin for another five hours. This time was not wasted, however, as we had great conversation with each other, which would be a welcomed addition today if we could just put away those pesky smartphones (of course, I’m currently using one of these pesky devices as I collect these thoughts to share).

Around 4 pm, a local band showed up and began setting up their equipment in anticipation of entertaining the more than 5,000 people that would be showing up that evening. A bit later, a television crew arrived from Baltimore, began filming some “B roll”, then moseyed over to the crazy people that had waited in line for over four hours. This was quite a thrill for all of us.

As the event drew closer, the multitudes began pouring into the area. The time finally came and we purchased our tickets and headed for our seats. The magic was about to happen.

Around 6 pm, the Frederick Keys, a minor league baseball team for the Baltimore Orioles, took the field. Their starting pitcher? Ben McDonald.

Ben McDonald was selected number one overall in the MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles the previous June. It took two months of negotiations before the Orioles finally signed him to a three-year contract. His first professional start would take place in Frederick.

When Ben took the field, the 5,000-plus crowd gave him a standing ovation as if they were paying tribute to greatness. Everyone knew they were witnessing the start of what would become a Hall-of-Fame career. I looked over at my nephews and they were awestruck. The look in their eyes showed me the trip and the long wait was worth it.

Ben McDonald pitched three innings giving up five hits and one run. Less than two weeks later he was pitching for the Major League club, the Baltimore Orioles. It was an exciting “first” that we experienced that day, but the Hall-of-Fame career we anticipated never materialized. He pitched a little over six seasons for our beloved Birds but was allowed to test free agency following these mediocre seasons. Ben McDonald retired a year and a half later amidst arm trouble.  

The greatest thing that happened on August 23, 1989, was not witnessing history, despite it being categorized as one of those highlights of my life. It wasn’t being interviewed for television or bringing home a foul ball I caught in the stands. No, the thing that made this day magical was to spend a full day with family. The time spent with Suzanne, Alan, and Tim some 35 years ago in the small town of Frederick, Maryland, truly was magical.

Magical moments do not need to be expensive, elaborate productions, nor do they need to qualify as historical. Spending quality time with those we love can be truly magical, and will create long-lasting memories where even the smallest of details are remembered.

Thanks, Ben McDonald, for creating an atmosphere for this writer to experience the memory of a lifetime. Your professional debut is one of my Hall-of-Fame magical moments.

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