One of my baseball heroes was "The Cuban Comet," Orestes "Minnie" Minoso.
Part of my affection comes from having met Mr. Minoso. When I was 20, I was a clerk in a downtown Chicago liquor store called Bragnos, right on Rush Street--right across from a bar/brothel.
Minoso was a sales rep for Old Style beer, which at the time--before everything in American got consolidated, monopolized and blanderized--was the largest-selling beer in Chicagoland.
Minoso walked into the cavernous store, stopped by the counter and shook my hand. Then he generally walked around the store saying hello to everyone. I shook his hand again before he left. And we talked about the diamond-encrusted World Series ring he proudly wore on his giant right-hand.
More than anything, however, Minoso appealed to me because he is the only player in baseball history--maybe the only athlete in the history of top-tier professional sports--to play for parts as five decades.
He said something to me about "not wanting to continue." About having given enough and being a certain age and being tired of fighting. All feelings I can identify with. Fighting your whole life through your career, making a living, saving, raising kids, having a long marriage. I can hear the Yiddish phraseology rattling through what's left of my brain: "What for am I doing this for?"
We laughed at that. Who wouldn't? The idea of making it eight-and-three-quarters more years.