I've got a ...

Don Barone
Elite Series Pro: Kevin Short

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

"Like the pine trees lining the winding road
I've got a name, I've got a name ... "

Dateline: Them There

To not know their name, is to not know this sport.

To not know their passion, is to not know this sport.

To not know their dream, is to not know this sport.

This here sport of the Elites.

This here sport of known names.

KVD. Skeet. Clunn. Ike.

" ... like the singing bird and the croaking toad

I've got a name, I've got a name ... "

Know also, these names.

Jimmy.

Bobby.

Clemente.

Know also their names, because, you know their faces.

They mix your paint at Home Depot.

They plow your street after the storm.

They pour your drink.

They wait on you.

They nurse you.

They protect you.

They sell to you, they buy from you.

They live next door to you, across the street from you, they live in the walk-up above, the flat below.

They are, what you see, when you look in the mirror.

" ... and I carry it with me like my daddy did

But I'm living the dream that he kept hid ... "

He wanted to take one cut.

One swing.

One heater.

High and inside.

Low and outside.

Didn't matter.

Just wanted to tap his cleats.

Squeeze the chalk.

Stretch his neck, stretch his back, twist the ball of his foot into the dirt.

Spit.

Glance at the catcher, and then slowly turn his head to face the mound.

A mound in the "bigs."

A major league mound.

One "at-bat," at the Polo Grounds.

Or Braves Field, Fenway, or the most cherished of all, Yankee Stadium.

You don't know his name, because he never got that swing. High. Inside. Heater.

But his brother-in-law did, and you may know his name, Sibby Sisti, MLB player for the Boston and Milwaukee Braves.

One swing. Low. Outside. Heater.

But he never forgot his dream.

You don't know his name.

But I do.

Dad.

Donald L Barone, Sr.

He never taught me how to rip a cut at a heater.

He never taught me how to sell refrigerators at Sears for 25 years.

He never taught me how to be sad.

He taught me how to dream.

No matter how impractical the dream.

No matter how unattainable the dream.

He would sit in his chair, wingtip's off, bowl of ice cream in one hand, spoon perched above it in the other.

And he would listen, scoop out a spoonful of fudge ripple, slowly pull it out of his mouth licking it clean, then he would say:

"Go for it."

And in his eyes I would see, the heater. High. Inside.

" ... rolling me down the highway

Moving ahead so life won't pass me by ... "

Now, today, those with familiar faces and unfamiliar names, this way comes.

To Connecticut.

To Candlewood Lake.

To the Bass Federation Nation Eastern Championship.

To stepping up to the plate, and swinging for the Elites.

To those who this way comes, know this, every, every Elite angler, at one time, was just like you.

Unknown.

A big stick, with big dreams.

And a grocery store face.

And a biologist face.

And a pilot face.

But most of all, they came.

To take their swing at the heater.

High.

Inside.

" ... and I'm gonna go there free

Like the fool I am and I'll always be ... "

He sat crushing peanuts, front row, third base side.

This man, with an unfamiliar name.

I sat next to him drinking a coke.

This son, with a familiar name.

Behind us, the crowd hurried to leave the Birmingham Barons game.

We never moved.

As the game played on.

In my father's mind.

As life played on.

In my father's mind.

I sipped and watched, as he crushed and ate.

Peanuts he.

Coca-cola me.

As the crowd left.

He would take the peanut from the box, crush it between his thumb and forefinger, and pop the two small nuts into his mouth.

While never taking his eyes off home plate.

I sat there, saying nothing. Gave dad his time to take the pitch.

With the last peanut still being chewed, he stood up, as did I, and then dad turned to me, and stuck out his hand to shake mine.

I said to him, no need to thank me for buying the tickets, my pleasure.

But instead of shaking my hand, he held it in his as he did when I was a child.

And he nodded his head toward the field. And pulled me close.

He being the young Dad once again.

Me being the young child once again.

Along the third base line.

And in a whisper that smelled of sorrow and dreams, he told me a secret that I promised him I would never tell anyone he told me.

So for those of you, who this way comes, all I can say is this.

As you take to Candlewood Lake.

Or any lake.

For this tournament.

Or any tournament.

Whether with a familiar name.

Or an unfamiliar name.

If you want your dreams to come.

Swing.

High.

Inside.

Make a name.

For yourself.


 

" ... I've got a dream, I've got a dream ... "

I Got A Name

Jim Croce

 

-- db

Don Barone is an award-winning outdoors writer and a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Guild of the U.K. You can reach db at www.donbaroneoutdoors.com.

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