The following can be found in its entirety at The Barnstormer. Link below.
When you’re a kid, there is a blissful ignorance in your affection for sport. Your favourite team is likely from the city you live in, or whichever one is close by, or the team your folks cheered for. Team loyalty is passed down through generations, like heirlooms, willed from father to son to granddaughter. Your favourite player, if you believe in such trips of childish reverie, is unique in that rather than willed it is bestowed, by some higher power, an intangible and immeasurable God of sport, who chooses for you. Your love is measured in fraying posters clinging desperately to childhood bedroom walls, imaginations of sandlot afternoons, and trading cards tucked safely into nine pocket pages in binders once meant for math or history. This is the second love you’ll know, after parents but before romantic love. For some reason, these players appeal to you, call to you. When they hand out little league and Pee Wee numbers, you do whatever you can do get theirs. You’ll fight your neighbour for Casey Candaele’s number 9. You’ll trade a Ryne Sandberg rookie card for Fred McGriff’s 19. There is no logic here. It cannot be explained. It just is.