by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

The Tiger slowly made his way through the jungle. He’d been traveling for days. It was a sad journey, but he had no choice.

Over the mountain. Down the river. Finally, he clawed through some vines and into a clearing.

The trees were tall, of white ash, and had “Louisville Slugger” written across their trunks. Old baseballs hung from the branches. The rocks were shaped like bases.

And there, around a small campfire, sat a group of cartoon- like characters.

A Pirate. An Oriole. A Brave. Two Red Socks.

They were moaning softly.

“No pitching . . . “

“No hitting . . . “

“No chance . . . “

The Tiger sighed.

He had found it.

The Ancient Logo Burial Ground. Expo is heard, not seen

“Hello, friend,” said the Oriole, looking up. “We heard you were coming.”

The Tiger forced a smile and shook paws with the others. The Padre in his robe. The Indian in full headdress. The Phillie, who, uh, well, looked like a Phillie, whatever they look like.

“Tough break,” said the A from Oakland, shaking his point.

“Yeah,” the Tiger agreed. “Tough break.”

Last year, he had been lucky. The World Series winner. The only logo to avoid this cruel fate. He spent the winter a champion, his roaring orange face on everything from T-shirts to car bumpers.

But this season, things soured. His team was eliminated. Out of it. And he was compelled to return to the forest primeval.

“Don’t worry,” said the Ranger.

“There’s always next year, there’s always next year,” added the Twins.

Suddenly the Brewer staggered out from behind a tree. He stopped, and said, “Urp!”

All the logos shook their heads — except for the socks, which had no heads. “He’s been drinking again,” whispered the Mariner. “You know those logos from Milwaukee.”

They settled back around the fire, and began to reminisce about happier days. The pennants they’d been on. The caps. The notebooks. Suddenly, tears welled up in the Tiger’s eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “but today is an anniversary. This time last year we clinched our division. I was on top of the world.”

“Tell me about it,” mumbled the Cub.

“Yeah,” said the Padre, wiping his eyes.

“It’s a shame,” added the voice of the Expo.

(Note: no one had ever seen the Expo. In fact, no one really knows what an Expo looks like. Everyone just took it on faith that the voice was his.)

“Well, I don’t see why you guys are griping,” said the Pirate. “My team has become a laughing stock. We might be sold. I could be turned into — who knows? A bison? A pig?”

“You?” said the Brave. “How’d you like to be on Turner Broadcasting every night of the week, getting your mohawk waxed?”

“Ssshhh!” said the Oriole. “Quiet! You’ll wake up the Giant!”

They looked over at a big tree, where the behemoth from San Francisco lay sleeping.

“Been here for months,” whispered the Cub. Spring brings new life

The skies grew dark. The fire began to dim. Somewhere around the world, the baseball games that still mattered were begining.

“Old Mr. Met must be having a good time right about now,” sighed the Phillie.

“And my cousin, Jay,” said the Oriole.

“Well, I just hope the Angel doesn’t win this year,” said the Pirate. “He already has that holier-than-thou attitude.”

“You said it, you said it,” added the Twins.

The Indian raised his hand. The time had come, he said. The Indian was regarded as the wisest of all the logos because he had been to the burial ground more times than any of them.

A sweet melody began to waft through the trees. It sounded like, . . . yes, it was. Organ music.

“Thank you for coming,” said one Red Sock.

“Please drive home safely,” added the other.

All the logos smiled at that one.

The Tiger curled into a sleeping position, put his head on his paws, and yawned. The campfire embers were glowing orange.

“Wait’ll next year,” mumbled the Brave.

“Wait’ll next year,” mumbled the Oriole.

“Wait’ll next year,” mumbled the Padre.

“Urp!” said the Brewer.

The Tiger closed his eyes, soon to dream, with visions of spring training 1986 dancing in his head.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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