My Lottery Fantasy
I decided to get out of the house yesterday during the beautiful Saturday afternoon and drive on down to one of my favorite watering holes to watch the Florida State versus Florida rivalry football game. As anyone who knows me,I am a humongous Gator fan even before I completed my college days. I have a mean spot for the Seminoles, and especially FSU Head Coach Bobby Bowden and my college recruiting visit, but that is too huge a tale to tell for right now.
But a funny thing happen righted after the Gator victory improved their 2009 record to 12-0 on the season. An old friend and I got into a wild discussion on what we might do if we won the Florida Lottery,or Powerball that night. For some weird reason I had an instant idea and a clear definition of where a bulk of my winnings would go, and the Hard Rock Casino never entered my mind.
Now it is not like I do not think about things like this on a daily basis,and I actually fantasize about the possibilities, but hearing the words and ideas that suddenly came out of my mouth actually surprised me. You would honestly think I would bring up the notion of finally committing to that trip I have always wanted to take to Europe and Asia. Or maybe buy an extreme classic car, like a vintage 1969 Chevy Camaro convertible and cruise Route 66 from coast to coast doing my own rendition of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” by eating at great places. But none of those ideas came to my mind at that time.
For some odd reason the only things that came to my mind at that moment was giving back to baseball. Sure I would pocket a bit of money into a 401-K or Mutual Fund account to systematically give me my Tampa Bay Rays Season Ticket money each November,but the rest of the words at that moment were about giving back to the Tampa Bay baseball-oriented community. I began to gush on and on about giving money to the Challenger Baseball Leagues in the area that helps kids with physical limitations take steps to break through that physical wall and play the game I love so much. I was talking about smiles and giggles from kids as parents watched or help them play this glorious game.
I boasted about helping the area Little Leagues where I was their Pepsi Cola rep to upgrade fields and scoreboards, and give added money towards hardship scholarships to kids who’s parents want them to play, but do not have the money for equipment or yearly dues. For some reason, for the first time in a long, long time, I only did one solo thing for myself in that conversation.
I envisioned a 20-year payment plan where I could help the Rays Foundation every year with a sponsored event. That I would bid on beautiful baseball memorabilia auctioned off by the Ted Williams Museum during the Rays season and donating each item to baseball-oriented charity raffles and events. I also wanted to get with the Rays and Rays Clubhouse Manager Chris Westmoreland and purchase 5 game and 5 BP jerseys per season with players names on them, get their autographs on the items and then give them to local charities as auction items. I was feeling overly benevolent last night.
I wanted to buy an entire row of 10 seats in my area and give the tickets away before every game. I wanted to dedicate the area to one of my Rays baseball friends and call it “Cursi’s Corner”. Yes, I envisioned me standing outside before every Rays games and giving either a pair or 4 tickets to a family coming up to buy tickets to the game on game day. Take the ticket price burden off the parents for one day/night so they could make the baseball experience better. I loved going to game with my father up until the time he passed away when I was 16. I wanted others to feel that same love for the game.
I was growing a sentimental heart right in front of my increasingly drunk friend and it kind of freaked him out a bit. You see, I am the guy who always seems to get the “special” stuff. For some odd reason I have good things happen to when I am around baseball. Yankee starter/reliever Joba Chamberlain came over and chatted with me for a bit towards the end of the 2009 season, and actually signed a ball for me. Sure we sat there chewing the fat about the playoffs, and hoping the best for him, but these kinds of moments happen spontaneous to me. It is not like I can predestine a foul ball coming to me and I catch it….Can I?
While my friend was talking about a possible beach front condo,or even a smooth luxury ride,I was talking the thrills of seeing a kid light up if he gets a foul ball, or gets a wave or autograph from a Rays player. As my friend was talking about buying a round for the entire bar on a busy Friday or Saturday night,I was talking about pizza parties and maybe talking a Rays player into coming to a local school to talk Rays baseball with the kids during the yearly “Teach In” days. Funny, I was sitting there thinking about the next Rays generation loving the game like I have the last 13 years.
I could of had anything in the world at that moment when all 5 numbers of the Lotto were on my little paper ticket. I could reward myself and fly to every Rays away game/series and stay in the Team Hotel, but giving back to baseball was firmly on my mind. Maybe this is why men of power and wealth give to charities and foundation later in life. Maybe I am finally understanding that spirit for which “those that have” give so much to “those that have not” and ask so little in return.
Maybe it finally dawned on me while I was sitting in that dark bar thinking about untold possible wealth and drinking my cold Coors Light that maybe I do not give enough back to this wonderful game for all it has ever given to me. Well, my buddy still sat there discussing his needs and wants if those mystery 5 numbers were dropped into his lap. Around 12 am I popped open my cellphone and hit the web looking for the Lottery results on the state run website.
Really not wanting to fantasize anymore about the possibility, but wanting the reality to sink in of the whole situation. As I glanced at the numbers quickly, I noticed two numbers pop right out at me, and they were on two of my tickets. As I slowly marked down the rest of the numbers on a bar napkin, I glanced at the Lotto form and noticed those two numbers were the only ones I had that night. Reality had bitten me again, but I w
as not sad at all.
Sure I was a bit bummed, but enlightened by the whole conversation, and I vowed to help more around the local baseball community. I decided to offer the Rays my services to volunteer for anything they might need people for in 2010. And I decided to again every Wed. and Sat. night to purchase Powerball or Lotto tickets, because one day this dream might end up coming true.
For when, and if it ever happens that all 5 numbers gleam back at me from a single ticket, I will repay baseball for everything it has given me in my life by helping others. But in the mean time,I will sweat,get dirty and work towards helping the Tampa Bay baseball community grow every day. They say if you work hard enough, dreams come true.