Because this is a personal blog, I hope you will indulge me for a moment as I make what is, to me anyway, a very important announcement about my life.
From this day forward, I intend to only wear baseball ties.
This has been a long time coming. I’m sure this has happened to you — for years, I have thought about making this transition to an all baseball tie wardrobe, but the time was never quite right. I believe that time is now. I am getting rid of all my non-baseball ties. I am purchasing nothing but baseball ties from here on in. This is it. I’m all in on the baseball tie thing.
Yes, sure, first thing you will say is: “Wait, you’re going to wear a BASEBALL TIE to a somber event like a funeral or the dinner when you accept the National Book Award for your soon to be finished book on Harry Houdini?” Yes, that is correct. I am indeed finishing a book on Houdini. Thank you for asking about that. Also, I am in the market for baseball ties that will fit all occasions.
I began this all-baseball-tie process last October during the baseball playoffs. I wear jacket and tie to baseball games I cover. I do this because … I don’t know why exactly. I like ties, I guess. I am like the opposite of the cool executive and creative types you read about who brag about how they love their job precisely because they don’t have to wear a tie. I work in a profession where you really don’t have to wear a tie, and I do anyway. This makes me ridiculous.
I have theorized — because, honestly, it’s just a theory — that the reason I wear a jacket and tie is that my parents always hoped that I would have a jacket-and-tie kind of job. My parents are immigrants who came to America just three years before I was born. My father worked in a factory. My mother stayed at home (though she later went back to school and became a computer programmer). There was a clear, “We sacrifice so that you will have a better life” theme throughout my childhood. The hope was that I would become a doctor, naturally. The fallback was lawyer. The everything-must-go-store-closing settlement was accountant. I went to college to become an accountant. Needless to say, it didn’t work out well.
It’s hard to describe the power of suits and ties in my childhood imagination. I didn’t know many men who wore ties to work; they mostly did not live in our neighborhood. In my mind, men who wore ties to work, wow, they were rich and powerful. They were the sort of people who belonged to country clubs and drank champagne from crystal tulip glasses and clicked croquet balls through those hoopy things stuck into the ground and they all had spouses named “Lovey” like Thurston Howell III. On those rare days when my father wore a tie, you knew something big and vital was about to happen — someone was about get married, someone had just passed away, the factory was having the big Christmas party at the owner’s house.
Anyway, I have always associated my parent’s ambitions for us with neckties. And maybe that’s why I wear them any time I go to a game or have an interview or appear on television. I’m wearing one right now.
And the tie I’m wearing, yep, it’s a baseball tie. It’s red and has a bunch of little sketches of the proper way to hold the baseball when throwing different pitches. There’s the knuckleball grip, the slider grip, the palmball grip (palmball!), etc.
For years, I wore real ties — “real” meaning “ties that do not necessarily have baseballs on them” — and it was fine. I had some fun ties; a couple of them had Looney Tunes characters on them. I had some serious ties with stripes or dots. I like a lot of those ties. I have a moon rock tie. I have a Sinatra tie. All must go.
Back to how this happened: Last year I was at the Baseball Hall of Fame for this incredibly cool project that I can’t wait to tell you about … and I was in the gift shop, and I saw this awesome baseball tie. It’s one that features the Norman Rockwell painting of the umpires deciding to call the game because of rain. It’s actually called “Game Called Because of Rain.”
I had to get that tie, it was way cool. And I wore it a couple of times, it got a lot of compliments. And it hit me: I should only wear baseball ties. I mean I’m at the point in my life where:
1. I like baseball a lot.
2. Like, a lot.
3. Seriously, who am I trying to impress at this point in my life?
So during the playoffs last year, I made the switch. I wore a different baseball tie every day until I ran out (I think I have 11 of them now) and then started over. And here was the craziest part. NOBODY NOTICED. I mean, people noticed individual ties — partiparticularlyNorman Rockwell one which seems to be the most beloved of the group so far — but nobody noticed that I was wearing only baseball ties.
And I thought: This works. Most people won’t notice anyway. And the people who do notice … well, just today, I went to the Hall of Fame press conference for Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman. What a great group, and before it began I went to see the delightful Andrea Thome, Jim’s wife, who my wife and I got to know many years ago.
She said: “I love your tie!”
So this is happening. I will readily admit that my midlife crisis does not have the same energy as the convertible sports-car midlife crisis, but that’s OK. I don’t like convertibles. I love baseball ties. I think back to my younger self, the kid who wanted to make a success of his life but had neither the will nor the brains to do it the conventional way, and I would love to tell him that I have a job where I wear jackets and ties.
“All right,” my younger self would say blandly.
“But here’s the great part,” I would tell myself. “They’re all baseball ties.”
And with that my younger self’s face would light up. “Cool,” he would say or whatever the word was at that time.