Dropped by the grocery store early Sunday afternoon to fetch myself some Father’s Day treats — just felt sort of compelled to take the celebration into my own hands, I guess.
After buying my collection of sausages, jo jos, barbecued chicken wings and Power Bars, I ended up in an interesting conversation in the parking lot that started when I noticed a wood baseball bat in the trunk of the car next to my pickup.
The car belonged to an older woman, and being a huge baseball fan, without hesitation I asked her about it.
“Nice bat,” I said. “Why do you have a bat in your trunk?”
“In case I need it,” she replied.
I kind of interpreted that to mean, “In case I need to beat the tar out of someone.”
Undaunted, more or less anyway, I kept talking, and she pulled the lumber out so I could have a better look at it.
It was a newer Rawlings Big Stick and said Oregon State Baseball on the barrel.
Turns out the woman’s husband had been an assistant coach at OSU dating to the Ralph Coleman era — the Beavers’ field is named after Coleman — and is a longtime scout for the Philadelphia Phillies.
“He only works part-time now,” the woman said.
I told her I had a bat in my car too and always kept a variety of sporting good on hand in a case a game — baseball, golf, tennis, whatever — presented itself. I grabbed my bat, made by Brett Bros., and showed it to her.
“You know who George Brett is?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “We” — meaning the Phillies — “played against him in the World Series when he was with the Royals.”
“Yep,” I said. “He and his brothers have a bat company in Spokane.”
We shot the breeze a bit more, and then I asked her name, which she said was Ann Harper.
That triggered something in my memory.
“You worked at OSU, right?” I asked. “You were Jimmy’s secretary,” meaning former basketball coach Jimmy Anderson.
“Yes,” she said. “Jimmy, and Ralph Miller, and Paul Valenti.”
I told her who I was and where I worked and said we had likely spoken before since I covered Beaver basketball from 1990 to 1999.
“I’ll look for your name in the paper,” she said.
“Well, I don’t write much for the paper anymore. Mainly I edit other people’s stories and lay out pages. But I do write a blog every day, if you happen to go online.”
All in all, the conversation was a real Father’s Day highlight for me, and all because a very pleasant grandmother type carried around in her trunk a piece of sporting equipment that I happened to see.
You just never know.