Sorry for the silence yesterday … but I have a good excuse. It involves a Hall of Fame second baseman and a spectacular act of atonement by a certain Coldwater High School administrator.

Grant had been feeling guilty about laughing at me the other day. I hadn’t been doing much to ease his conscience, as I was still pretty hacked off about the whole mess, and I still couldn’t quite shake the suspicion that I had been the victim of an elaborate prank … so Grant did what any sensible guy would do in such a circumstance: He strolled into the lobby bright and early yesterday morning with a shiny, gift-wrapped package in his hand and a you-know-what-eating grin on his face.

“I figured this would cut more ice than a bouquet of flowers,” he said as I unwrapped the box and pulled out a Ryne Sandberg rookie card, a Sharpie, and a pair of tickets to last night’s Albuquerque Isotopes game against the Iowa Cubs.

“I thought you’d like that card better if it had Ryno’s autograph on it,” Grant explained.

Considering my background, you’d think I’d be pretty jaded about the prospect of meeting a celebrity … and most of the time, you’d be right. But Sandberg is special. He’s part of my childhood. I grew up watching him play. I think he was my first celebrity crush, and I know he was the first man whose photograph I ever tore out of a magazine and taped to my bedroom wall. I think I was about 12 at the time. All through junior high, I refused to go to sleep until I’d kissed that picture goodnight, and somewhere in my boxes of random ephemera I’ve accumulated over the last 30 years or so, there is probably a ticket stub from a 1989 Cubs-Padres game at Wrigley Field with the words “Mrs. Sierra Sandberg” written on the back in a bubbly script, with a little heart in place of the dot on the i. I actually broke up with my eighth-grade boyfriend after he had the temerity to suggest that Ozzie Smith was a better player than Sandberg — and refused to take it back. (Jerk.)

Grant didn’t know all that when he bought the tickets, but he knew I was a diehard Cubs fan, so while Joyce manned the front desk last night, Grant and I stood in line for what seemed like an eternity, watching Sandberg sign baseballs and jerseys and all sorts of memorabilia for his adoring fans. I consider it a major accomplishment that I managed to get all the way through the line and ask him for his autograph without fainting, forgetting my own name, or drooling on myself.

On the way home, we had to stop at Wal-Mart so I could buy a picture frame. I think that picture Grant took of Ryno signing my card will look great on the wall next to my bed….

— Sierra


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