Most everyone that regularly reads this blog knows about Bullocks Barbecue restaurant. It’s between my still-unsold house in Durham and Duke’s campus. When you’re in the mood for all-you-can-eat Southern cooking, there’s no better place around. As part of its charm, autographed photos of famous people cover the walls. They’re mostly late 70’s and early 80’s country stars, like Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Conway Twitty. There are some others, like Jay Leno and Arnold Schwartzenegger, even a very early set of photos of “U2 (Irish rock group)”.
But that’s not the reason I used to stop there every year on my birthday. Just on the right after you walk in were, until recently, two frames, each with a dozen or so photos. They commemorate one of the days that the New York Yankees, finishing up their spring training schedule, came to Chapel Hill to play the UNC Tar Heels. Polaroids and old-style Kodak prints of shortstop Bucky Dent, manager Billy Martin, and a bunch of no-name college players. Bullocks catered the after-game dinner. It’s truly a great collage. Now, I’m not a fan of the Tar Heels, and I’m certainly not a fan of the Steinbrenner-era Yankees. But I love baseball. It’s a big part of my life. In its purest form, it’s about everything that I think is right with humanity. The day was April 3, 1979, the day of my birth. So no, I don’t think it’s any coincidence at all that I was born so near the beginning of baseball season. It’s the annual rebirth of my soul.