What A Moment
It’s no secret that during the off season it’s a grind to find things to *main thread* about every day. But this one is easy.
I dialed the number someone kindly shared with me. [Long-ish story I can’t get into. The info was handed to me. My first thought was: What? No way I can call him. I was told I had to tell him about the book. I demurred. Until today.] I was that nine-year-old boy trying to call Willie Mays, as described at the outset of ‘Chasing Willie Mays.’
What would I say?
He answered right away. I knew it was him.
‘Hello, who is this?’
‘This is Paul Kocak. I wrote a book…’
‘Wait a second, I can’t hear you.’
His voice was high-pitched, almost plaintive, but calm, cordial, familiar. Comfortable and conversational.
As I was intoning the familiar ‘can you hear me now?,’ I realized it wasn’t just me or my phone, though I might’ve been mumbling a little from nerves. His TV was too loud. The curse of old people. He had left his phone to turn down the television. I could hear the volume receding.
‘I had to turn the TV down.’
‘What can I do for you, sir?’
‘I just wanted to let you know I wrote this book. It’s about you, and my love for the Giants. When I was nine years old I tried to call you, and here I am calling you now from Syracuse, New York.’
‘I heard about that book.’
‘…yeah, it was on a New York station.’
I had yet to be interviewed on a NY station, though a station in Stamford, Connecticut, had interviewed me the day before. But who knows?
‘So, I was wondering if I could send you a copy.’
‘Sure, send it to the ballpark.’
‘Oh, okay. At 24 Willie Mays Plaza.’
‘I don’t want to intrude on your day. Thank you so much, sir. Thank you, sir. Bye now.’
Clearly, my ‘thank yous’ extended over decades and went deeper than this call and far beyond me.
That was it, more or less. I cannot describe how welcoming, charming, easy, and gracious he was. If some stranger had called my number out of the blue, I would be more suspicious, apprehensive, annoyed. He left the feeling we could’ve talked longer. I didn’t want to abuse the privilege. It went easy once I made up my mind to do it. Oh yeah. There was a tiny voice in the back of my head saying: This is Willie Mays. You’re talking to Willie Mays. Live. This is your childhood reenacted with a different ending.
He couldn’t have been sweeter or more hospitable.
So, aside from a nap or two on a day with torrential rains, that was my day.
If you want to read Pawlie’s book “Chasing Willie Mays” you can find it online here: