It was a good day. Actually, it was a great day.
And it came completely out of the blue.
I was sitting at my desk on Election Day, writing my column for the next day. The phone rang. And I always answer my phone if I can.
Anyway, on the other end of the line was a voice I'd never heard before. A woman's voice. She identified herself right away -- "This is Mots Ginter," she said.
"Are you related to Gary Ginter," I asked.
I played baseball with Gary Ginter 40 years ago. I thought she might be his sister or something.
But no. She'd never heard of Gary Ginter.
So we exchanged pleasantries for a minute or so, and then I asked what I could do for her.
"Well, we (she and her husband, Lonnie)
I had no idea what she was talking about. A baseball? With my name on it? I've played a lot of baseball in my day, but I've only been asked to autograph a couple of balls by little kids who didn't know any better. And to be honest, I don't recall the circumstances of any of those signings.
Then she started to describe the ball.
"In big letters," she said, "it reads 'Pennsylvania Amateur Baseball Champions -- 5th Colonial York Tournament' and then a big '1969' on one end."
Then she added: "The whole team signed it, but after all these years the names are kind of faint. But your name is one I could easily read. So I thought I'd call."
And I'm glad she did. Because I made the connection right away. As it turns out, Pleasureville won the Central League championship in 1969, and it was allowed to pick up extra players from other teams in the league to fill out its tournament roster.
I was one of the players they picked up that year.
I didn't remember signing the
It was one of those moments you don't forget. One great baseball weekend among many wonderful baseball weekends in my life.
"And how did you come by this baseball?" I asked.
I was curious, because Mots -- her real name is Margaret, but no one calls her that, she said -- freely admitted she hadn't seen many Central League baseball games in her life.
"Well," she said, "I was dating Bob Hedrick -- he pitched for Mount Wolf back then -- so I probably went to the game to see him pitch in the tournament."
As it turns out, she only dated Hedrick a couple of times, but she couldn't think of any other reason why she might have gone to the game.
And, of course, once at the game she took the time to have a baseball signed by all the guys on the team.
Sure enough, Bob Hedrick's signature is on the ball, too. In fact, I'll list all the names on the ball, just to refresh everyone's memory: Jimmy Snyder, Gene Snyder, Jimmy Moore, Bennie Schwartz, Denny Shaffer, Jim Gabert, Ron Gray, Steve Hevner, Dick Snyder, Gordy Snyder, Terry Waltimyer, Gene Wawer, Phil Kessler, Dan Kinard, Gary Flury and Mike Sweigart, all from Pleasureville.
And the extra players picked up: Bill Grim, Hedrick, Ken Myers, Dale Wise and me.
Plus there are two names on the ball too faint to read.
But here's the surprising thing to me -- Mots only went out with Hedrick a couple of times, so her memories of him couldn't have been that great. And she probably didn't know a single other player on the team. Yet here we are 43 years later, and she still has the ball in her possession.
So I asked: "Would you be interested in selling the ball to me? And I'll throw in a brand new baseball for your grandson, to boot."
I would have paid -- in fact, I offered -- $20. Then $25. Honestly, I'd have paid $50 for that ball. This is the kind of local townball memorabilia that shouldn't get lost or thrown away. But Mots didn't want to sell it.
I could hear her husband talking to her in the background. Mots came right back on line and said, "Lonnie says I should just give it to you."
Give it to me? "No, I'll pay you something for it."
"No, you can have it. I can tell it'd mean a lot to you," she said.
And she's right. It does mean a lot to me. I only have a few baseball mementos from my playing days -- old bats, gloves, a few pictures -- and this ball will take its rightful place among those things.
I know, it's just a baseball. But I treasure it.
Many thanks to Mots and Lonnie Ginter for their generosity.
It occurs to me, by the way, that Mots could just as easily have called Bob Hedrick about the ball. But she didn't. She could have called Dan Kinard, too, but he's so old he might not even remember playing in the tournament in 1969. So that would have been a waste of a good baseball.
Instead, she called me.
It just goes to show you, it pays to answer the phone when it rings.
Because you never know when something good is going to happen.
And as good things go, this ranks up there pretty high in my book.
Sports columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Thurs days. E-mail: lhick firstname.lastname@example.org.