This is a popular story that my friends ask me to tell over and over again, so I decided that with today being the one year anniversary of this bizarre story I’d share it on here.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a sizeable collection of autographed Blue Jays baseballs, plus other generic Blue Jays memorabilia from when I was younger. I’d already met Borders earlier in the 2015 season and had a signed baseball, signed 1992 World Series program, a signed bat, and some signed cards to show for it. But since I had nothing better to do on this particular day, I decided to go back for more (I didn’t actually need more, but I figured I had nothing better to do with my time). The funny thing was that at one point I was actually going to head to Binghamton to see the Jays’ AA farm team, the New Hampshire FisherCats, play that night but at the last second decided not to make the two-and-a-half hour drive to Binghamton from my house. In hindsight, that was a pretty crucial decision that sort of taught me how each decision, no matter the size of it, produces a unique set of consequences.
So, there I was at a minor league baseball game in Batavia, New York where Pat Borders was managing his Williamsport Crosscutters that night. I had taken up my “usual” spot by the visitors’ clubhouse where I’d patiently wait for Borders to make his way to the dugout, so I could politely ask him to sign some cards. While I was waiting, I was talking to a friend of mine who takes baseball photos for Baseball America and Topps baseball cards, and as we were chatting, Borders exited the clubhouse and walked toward us. He leaned against the railing next to me, and asked me “Do you work here?” I answered “No” as I began to wonder where this conversation was headed. He then asked me “Are you from the area?” and I said “Yeah,” and now I was starting to wonder if he was about to call me out for trying to get his autograph again (which I’d have sort of understood, but I would’ve been kind of pissed off at since he didn’t call out the obvious autograph dealers for repeatedly getting stuff signed earlier in the season). The next paragraph from Borders changed my life forever (okay, maybe it didn’t change my life forever, but it provided me this glorious chance to tell this story over and over again for the rest of my life).
“Do you know where there’s a Wal-Mart nearby?” Borders asked me. I told him I knew where the local Wal-Mart was, and then he said to me “Well, there’s a huge wasp nest in the bullpen over there and three of my relievers are allergic, and the grounds crew won’t buy me any because they say wasp spray doesn’t exist, so if I gave you some money would you go get me some wasp spray?”
Needless to say, I was kinda speechless at the question… I let the question sank in for a moment, before saying something along the lines of “uh…sure, I can do that for you!” He asked me if I had cash on me, and then asked me if I wanted anything, to which I just said “could you sign my cards?” He said, “I’ll sign every last one of them” to which I said “okay, cool, cause I have this huge stack in my pocket too” (I had 28 total cards of Pat Borders that night on me, which yes I know is a tad much, but I had no clue when I’d see him again and figured I had nothing to lose). Borders laughed when he saw the amount of cards of his I had handy, and said “I’ll get started on that while you’re away” and I handed him the stack.
So I walked out of the stadium through the bullpen (gotta love short season A ballparks where security is minimal to say the least), and walked to my car. Borders called out to me on my way out and told me to go in through the clubhouse when I came back, and then formally asked me my name.
So, I have to say that the drive to Wal-Mart was arguably one of the longest drives of my life even though it was actually only a two mile drive. I mean, Pat Borders was counting on me to buy him some wasp spray! So I ran into Wal-Mart as fast as I could (but not before I tweeted something to the extent “Buying Pat Borders wasp spray. What are you doing with your life?” of course). Of course, I couldn’t find wasp spray to save my live at this super-sized Wal-Mart. I mean, I guess it made too much sense to put the wasp spray in the garden/patio section of the store. So I called my parents to ask where I could find some wasp spray as I frantically searched for an employee to point me in the wrong direction (which makes me wonder, where were all the damn employees in the store that day?).
I asked my mom where I could find wasp spray at Wal-Mart. My question was met with “why do you need wasp spray? Aren’t you at a baseball game? Is there a bee in the car or something?” I paused and thought to myself ‘well, telling her the truth right now is gonna open a HUGE can of worms I don’t have time to talk about’ so I said something to the extent of “I just need some…” Fortunately, I found an employee who told me that it was next to the Febreeze (why do you keep wasp spray next to the Febreeze, exactly?) and I ran as fast as I could to the Febreeze section, shoving people and telling them to get out of my way in the process (okay, I didn’t actually do that, however I did walk at a pretty brisk pace). There I found it: wasp spray. I grabbed two cans for the 1992 World Series MVP. I was on my way back to the ballpark, and to help Pat Borders fight the good fight against the wasps!
It was a long two mile drive back to the ballpark. I must have hit every red light on the way back, and I think that’s when it finally hit me what was happening: I was buying the 1992 World Series MVP some wasp spray. When I pulled into the parking lot, Borders was waiting for me. I apologized for taking so long, and he said it wasn’t a problem before asking me how much the wasp spray cost. I told him “like $10” before asking him to take a pic with me and the wasp spray because as I told him “my friends are never going to believe this happened otherwise.” One goofy selfie later, and we were on our separate ways. But not before he gave me back my now signed cards (all 28 of them), a Phillies t-shirt, a Crosscutters hat, and $10. He profusely thanked me, and I told him I was thrilled to help him out and told him how much this bizarre moment actually meant to me having been a lifelong Blue Jays fan (as I told him this, my Baseball America photographer friend interjected to say “you obsess over the Jays.”
All in all, it was a truly bizarre moment of my life that I couldn’t make up if I tried, and I still laugh as hard about the story now when I tell it as I did that night when I got home.