Sunday, January 24, 2021

A Needed Distraction

This summer, my wife and I welcome our first child into this world.  What a time to be born, right?

Hopefully, this kid has no memory of the pandemic, political and societal unrest, and tension which has surrounded his birth and early months of existence.  But, needless to say, there was a lot going on and a lot on all of our minds throughout the summer months of 2020.  Trying to navigate the birth of your first child during all of that chaos truly added a whole other dimension to the stressors of the last year and a half.  What was I getting this poor kid into?  

As a result, throughout the late stages of my wife's pregnancy and the immediate aftermath, this blog went dark because there was just too much else going on - my mind was in other places and baseball was far from a priority.  However, there was one brief moment of clarity and, ironically, it occurred during the most stressful twenty-four hours of the whole process:  labor.  Sure, my blood was pumping and my whole brain was crying once we realized the process had began; but, after we finished our Mario Andretti-like hustle to the hospital, there wasn't much else to do but wait.  Due to this brief snippet of time caught in the waiting room of life, I will always associate the following player with the rush of emotions that I felt that day.

Hernan Perez was called up to the Chicago Cubs roster from the alternate training site during the evening hours of August 18.  At that very same time, my wife and I had arrived at the hospital, been checked in and were queued up and waiting for a bed and a birthing suite.  Due to COVID restrictions, we couldn't even leave the room we were being staged in unless using the bathroom.  Thus, to calm our nerves, my wife and I were able to passively follow their game against the Cardinals that night, via MLB At Bat, while we plowed through takeout and looked for anything else to distract our restless minds.  Better to obsess about the inconsequential prospects of a pro sports team than ponder all the things that can go wrong in birth, eh?

I remember being surprised that the Cubs had recalled the utilityman, but happy to add another name to my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection hunt.  Rather than obsessively over analyze every sound we heard in the hallway or count scuffs in the paint of the cream-colored walls, I spent a few minutes hunting down a card of Hernan for my CATRC tome.  I don't think it will surprise anyone that the ivy backdrop found on Perez's 2017 Topps Flagship single was too perfect for me to pass up when securing a piece for Wrigley's newest resident.

I'm pretty sure the photo you see above was taken while sifting through Ebay search results

In the end, without getting into too many details, the birth was quite a long and hairy experience - the little guy didn't make his grand entrance until a full day after kicking labor into gear.  But, in the end, the process was ultimately successful - our little Rowan was born and still is a happy and healthy little guy, now five months on.  In stark contrast, Hernan Perez's Cubs tenure was brief and unsuccessful - he only made six PA's in three games, recorded just one hit (a single) with two strikeouts, and was designated for assignment before the end of the month.  

Therefore, even though I've since been able to replace the visiting Brewer placeholder with a proper Cubs card from this season's Heritage High Numbers release, I will not be offloading the original.  Now, I'm not about to start super-collecting Hernan Perez or anything; but, the memories associated with that player and that card in particular are far too strong to simply discard.  It will hold a special, nostalgic place in my heart for the rest of my life.

Like I was caught off guard with his call-up, I was also surprised when Hernan was included in HHN.  After all, his tenure was "blink and you missed it" brief and he didn't do anything even approaching notable in a Cubs uniform.  However, with the pandemic effing up the schedule and printing deadlines being a thing, I guess I should have seen it coming that any player in Big League Summer Camp with an MLB resume was going to be fair game for both HHN and Update.  I'm not complaining either since Mr. Perez and his sweet arm tats look better in Cubbie Blue than Brewer Blue in my CATRC binder anyway.

In conclusion, I hear Hernan just signed with the Nationals on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.  Here's hoping he can reestablish himself and join his former teammates in Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber on the active roster.  Despite his lack of staying power, I wish Mr. Perez well.  I'll always think of him when I reminisce about the experience of bringing Rowan into this world.  And now I sit here banging out this post with my son sitting cheerfully on my lap.  

Life comes at you fast.


  1. Very cool story, gives an even more human face to what's otherwise a name that one glimpses on Twitter then never thinks about again. Also congrats again on parenthood BTW.

  2. Nice post! Life totally changes when you become a father. Even just getting into the car is a big production what with gathering/loading baby supplies, securing the baby's car seat, securing the baby in the car seat, etc. Still worth it.

  3. Wonderful story! I can't relate to parenthood but becoming a parent during pandemic? Wow - that's a unique parenting club.

  4. Congratulations and happy to hear that everyone came through that OK. Hope things get a lot easier for you, and all of us, before too long!

  5. Not having any kids, or ever paying much attention to labor stories (thankfully), I never knew that gals ate anything once the process started? I mean I guess if lasts that long, you might have to, but one would think that they'd be very light meals.

  6. Big congrats (again) on little Rowan! It's great that an otherwise forgotten utility guy like Hernan Perez is going to forever have a connection to you and your family.

    There's a lot of strange inclusions in High Numbers this year, which I'm hoping to round up in a blog post soon. Perez is an odd one, but I still have no idea why Ben Zobrist(?!) appears in 2020 HN.

  7. Congratulations. I have my own daddy "labor day" stories, too, but fortunately there was no pandemic at the time.

    The summer I was born, the U.S. ramped up its involvement in the Vietnam War, deploying ground troops, and the Watts riots took place for 6 days.

    The spring my daughter was born, the president was involved in a sex scandal and two pre-teens opened fire on their fellow students and teachers in Arkansas.

    What are we bringing are kids into? Well, I'm OK these many years later and so is my daughter. And so it will be with your son. The world keeps turning.

  8. Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Glad to hear he's happy and healthy.