Many people, especially the jocks among us, have a sporting moment from their youth they wish they could revisit.
For some, it was winning a championship in Little League baseball or tiny mite hockey. For others, it was about scoring that key goal or nailing that crucial basket or galloping for the touchdown that beat Collegiate in the big high school football game.
The great moments last forever.
Unfortunately so do the crummy ones. How many of you remember the time Oliver Road public school faced Cornwall public school for the right to advance to the 1969 Thunder Bay schoolboys softball playoffs?
How many of you remember the gripping tension of Oliver Road trailing by a couple of runs in the final inning with two out and one last chance for glory?
With the crowd screaming and even teachers looking on and applauding, Oliver Road sent its last batter to face the city's most feared player, a man-sized pitcher with legs that should have been holding up street lights and an arm that was outlawed in three provinces.
I'm telling you, the guy was huge. Rumour had it he took time off work to pitch for Cornwall and drove his car to games.
Anyway, Oliver Road's last hope turned out to be me and for 38 years I have lived with the awful memory of seeing (well, sort of seeing) three perfect strikes go by me like golf balls exploding off a tee.
Pffffffft. You're out, loser .
Anyway, a funny thing happened recently when I returned home to Thunder Bay and saw my good friend Terry Scott, who used to work for the city. Terry was having a few beers with his former co-workers and introduced me to Mark Simic, the supervisor of the city's community services department.
I'd met Mark once briefly a few years back but never made the connection. Terry filled me in: Mark was the pitcher who had scarred me for life. He was the Cornwall crusher; the man-child who shaved between innings and threw pitches that smelled like burning grass.
I suppose I could have disliked Mark but 30 seconds after meeting him we were laughing and carrying on like old buddies.
Turned out Mark had immigrated to Canada from Croatia at the age of six. His English needed work so the teachers put him back two grades to help him catch up. Mark was roughly a year older than us, which meant I was whiffed by a guy who was nicely into his teens and already weighed 180 pounds.
Looking back, the entire Oliver Road infield didn't weigh 180 pounds.
I took some consolation in that.
Mark was a remarkable athlete in his time. Cornwall was a school that had no grass playing fields. Its baseball diamond was painted onto asphalt. Mark never worried about sliding because he regularly hit balls onto the school roof, a pretty mean feat considering where home plate was and the fact Cornwall was a two-storey structure.
Mark won three schoolboy city softball titles before going on to high school where he played football and a physical game of floor hockey. Terry said Mark's nickname was MS, the crippler of young adults. Terry also insisted that in basketball there was no better outside shooter than our man Marko, who eventually blew out a knee and had to curb his athletic endeavors.
Anyway, as our evening progressed and the beers flowed, another of Terry's former co-workers, Paul Burke, suggested we go back to Oliver Road public school and re-enact the moment when the mighty Mark whiffed the wienie on three pitches.
Mark didn't want to do it. He said his arm wasn't what it was; that he might hit me with a wild pitch. I told him it didn't matter since I probably couldn't get the bat off my shoulder anyway.
In the end, Mark declined and somehow I felt cheated - relieved but cheated.
I would have liked to have stared down the nemesis of my youth. If I close my eyes I can still see him - standing on the pitcher's mound (it seemed like eight feet from home plate), his legs digging in, his right arm rearing back and ….. Pffffffft.
Strike three, you're out.
The nice thing was I was struck out by someone who turned out to be a helluva guy. He bought me a beer.
Just to help me forget.