Giving thanks to the reason why I became a sportswriterPublished 12:02pm Saturday, March 23, 2013
By Ed Bailey
Growing up in Union Springs, I wasn’t what you’d call fortunate. Not to say that every day was a struggle because that couldn’t be further from the truth, but I wasn’t as “blessed” or as “lucky” or as well-off as other people were.
I found myself wanting things that I couldn’t have or wondering what kind of luck must my family have had to end up in a small, mundane little rinky-dink town where anything fun to do was either a drive away, or ended with some kind of disciplinary action.
Needless to say, I probably wasn’t the most appreciative little runt in my younger days.
But there was one thing that I never took for granted: this guy named Corey.
For those who don’t know, Corey is my older brother, and like most older siblings in the eyes of impressionable youths like I used to be, he was my role model.
I wanted to be who he was. I wanted to do what he did.
Considering that I didn’t really have a father figure from the age of six on, for the more formative years of my lifetime, he was the person I tended to lean on when I needed to be a kid.
I’d take my team of eight invisible people and play him and his team of eight invisible people in our World Series.
I’d always be the Cleveland Indians and of course, I was Manny Ramirez more often not — unless I really wanted to get crazy and get in Jeff Bagwell’s cool batting stance, as I’d try to lead the Houston Astros to the title.
My brother never cared what team he was, so long as he was Ken Griffey Jr.
To this day, he still has the sweetest swing in the history of the game, but I digress.
We’d take our invisible people, tuck some paper towels into the side of our shirts and play some flag football.
I’d always wear my shirt untucked and draped over my “flags” to gain a competitive advantage since I wasn’t anything close to the athlete my brother was.
We’d play our idea of ultimate frisbee, which involved us jumping off of dirt hills and truck beds or playing in conditions ripe for a possible tornado, all the while shouting “It’s me against the wind” every time we’d go for a catch.
We’d team up on Madden and while we’d dominate, I’d get a little jealous because I wasn’t as efficient as he was about putting up his gaudy stats.
We’d play each other in basketball, and he’d wipe the floor with me.
So to combat that I’d challenge him to a game of Horse, where my plan for victory relied on a behind-the-goal baseline jumper.
It worked against him for about two months.
Long story short, any sort of proficiency we showed in the sporting realm, we learned from and, in a sense, were taught by each other.
Anyway, all the nostalgia aside, in matters of manhood, Corey was the end-all, be-all to me.
When I have issues with women, I seek out his advice.
When I have issues with my family, I seek out his counsel.
He’s been there a lot for me, more than he’ll probably ever know.
But what I really want to do is say thanks to him.
I want to thank him for playing (read: beating me) in those sports with me, even if I didn’t always want to.
I wouldn’t have turned to sports writing as a possible career — you know, since there was no way I’d ever be able to beat you consistently on the field of play.
So for that, for being my best friend before I knew how to make friends, and for all of the sage, yet sometimes absurd advice you give me, thanks.
And thanks to you, I can finally cross another item off my bucket list: Writing a story about you.
Even though I didn’t get to write about your on-field exploits, this still counts.
I’m not sure if you’ll ever see this, but if you do, just know that growing up would have been way harder if I didn’t have you around.
Thanks for being my brother, man.
Thanks for being my keeper.
Bailey is sports editor for The Outlook.