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From repair to reminiscences

Xs and Arrows

A tad of shoddy carpentry caused a shelf containing some of my memorabilia to come crashing down in the home office the other day. Among the objects that came raining from the heavens were several baseballs, a collection of sorts, each with its own story, some having not seen much light over the last few years as their shelf position was not ideal for attention.

The large shelf is actually a section of the original bleacher seating from the Icardo Center at Cal State Bakersfield. I procured a seven-foot section years ago when I worked there as we replaced the ancient wood with modern polymer. It is a fitting shelf for sports memorabilia and a quick trip to the hardware store for more-appropriate brackets was made.

As a result, I also purchased a few more shelves to help better showcase those baseballs that came falling to Earth like a homerun derby at Coors Field in Colorado. There are 11 of those balls now prominently displayed with their own corner shelf, each with a story as to why I still have them in my possession. Just like the game of baseball helps us mark the time with our own memories and stories, these bundles of string and rawhide have historical significance.

At focus is a 2014 souvenir ball from Wrigley Field, purchased at the friendly confines during my wife and my first trip to Chicago during the 100th anniversary of the famous facility. Thankfully, we were able to make that trip prior to the renovation that came a few years later which added the modern convenience of video replay boards and electronic scoring. I will be honest, I preferred it the old way, but to each his own.

There are a few NCAA baseballs from the Western Athletic Conference, including a 2012 conference tournament branded ball from my time announcing CSUB baseball. It was our first conference tourney and that year it was held in Grand Prairie, Texas. We lost a 1-0 game after a lightning delay from the night before; best part about that trip turned out to be the sweet tea fountain in my radio booth. Only in Texas, right? There are a few other baseballs autographed by various draftees from CSUB as well, one of which made the big leagues, a few I swiped from batting practice when we visited teams in bigger conferences. It was sort of a thing among our travel party. I have one from the Big 12 Conference taken from the University of Oklahoma; thanks Boomer Sooner.

I've got a few big league baseballs from my college days shagging in the outfield seats during Padres batting practice at Qualcomm Stadium. I even wrote the stories on the baseballs: "Batting Practice HR, Cliff Floyd, Florida Marlins, Right Field, Qualcomm Stadium '98." Or one of my favorite stories considering I was sitting in the Plaza level in centerfield "Warm up ball thrown to me by Juan Rivera, CF, San Diego, 1999." True story; I caught it with my bare hands throw from about 150 feet away and up a deck of seats.

There are a couple of baseballs that mark a few first pitches I threw out during my radio host days including one with the now-defunct Bakersfield Blaze logo on it. Speaking of defunct, I have a generic Cal League ball with the former president Joe Gagliardi's name on it. This guy was the epitome of a minor league baseball president. When you saw him you were not sure if he was selling baseball or used cars and his pencil thin mustache was straight out of baseball folklore.

Those baseballs tell a lot of stories. I am glad I now have a safe and proper place to display them and will now, in this phase of my life,pay far greater attention to improving my carpentry skills and making baseball memories for my own kids when the time comes.

Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. He can be reached at [email protected]. Read more content at http://www.CostelloeMedia.com.