Dateline: 59-south, East Texas
“db, we are going to weigh in for the Classic in a baseball stadium…”
“Um, huh, um…”
“…what do you think?”
Now comes what could be a turning point in a career.
I’m on the phone with Jerry McKinnis who is a friend but who still clings to the thought that he may actually be the first boss I ever listened to, which you know…no, and he has just told me that this 2017 Classic is going to be held in a ballpark…and wants my honest opinion.
My honest first thought was to please pass whatever it is you’re smoking but I know that even though he is older than I am he could still catch me in a foot race, this was then my first societal acceptable thought I could say to him.
“I’ll get back to you.”
Truth be told, I was on the fence, it’s a risk, but I don’t care about risks, been walking the razor’s edge all my life, but have had plenty of dealings with MLB that has gone, you know…you know.
But then I did this…I drove here.
I drove 452 miles through Arkansas and East Texas.
Nine hours with construction stops.
It was in Bobo, Texas…I saw a sign that said I was in Bobo but I didn’t actually see a Bobo or couldn’t find out much about the city/town on the Internet but the moment I saw that sign my iPhone music library on shuffle started playing a new song.
“Our Country,” by John Mellencamp.
Texas 59-south at that spot is 75 mph, yeeha, so I pushed my right foot down and backed up some at 82 mph.
Hit the toggle that lit up all the speakers and woofer in the truck cab.
Flipped the radar detector to high.
And drove, drove in my most peaceful state, one with inside the cab, one with the stick of the wheels on East Texas blacktop, one with the other side of the windshield filled with hills and valleys.
To me the only way to understand this Bassmaster Classic stuff, the only way to get it is to drive to it.
I hope to not offend the rest of the world, but…
…if I were king of B.A.S.S. I would promise you this…
…the Classic stays in America.
We’ll never weigh fish in Wembley Stadium.
We’ll never weigh fish in a huge soccer stadium.
I welcome the world to come here to America to play this game but I only ask this of them…drive through East Texas to get to it.
Drive through Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and a host of other states of America and look outside the windshield.
Get snacks at a small town IGA.
Eat a short rack of ribs cooked on a smoker some guy and his wife towed to the best corner of their small town.
Buy a hammer from a hardware store with some real guy’s name on the sign.
Get your hair did at Betty’s Hair parlor.
Stop at the rickety white and red farmer’s stand at the end of the farmer’s driveway and buy a dozen ears of corn for 45 bucks.
Understand all that and you understand us.
Understand all that and you realize that this game, this game deserves to weigh fish in a baseball stadium.
Bass fishing is as American as apple pie and baseball.
Sure, there may be some technical issues, big deal, but spin it up a little bit, look above the noise, look above the crowd, look above the little things, look beyond all of that.
Learn to be bold, learn to think, learn to do.
Baseball is truly American.
As is this game we play.
So what do I think Jerry? I still wonder at times what it is that you’re really growing up on that mountain of yours, but I also think this…
…baseball and bass, a field of dreams for those who will weigh in there.
A match made in America.
Drive 59-south through East Texas and you’ll know, it’s a home run.
“From the east coast
To the west coast
Down the Dixie Highway
This is our country”
And to East Texas…thank you,