Earlier this summer, my parents and little brother went on a trip out East, and they went to Cooperstown, N.Y., without me.
Work got in the way, and it certainly stung a bit, but I must give my family credit for making the best of an unfortunate situation.
In the gift shop at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Bradley found and Mom purchased a packet of reproduced New York Times pages chronicling moments in Detroit Tigers history.
I've already turned a few of them into decor for my apartment, but I've been thumbing through others quite a bit. It's the perfect gift: a peek back into moments I never got to experience and a window into the past of my profession.
The first stop in this time capsule is July 31, 1907. The Old Gray Lady is exactly that - a big pile of text. This is a relatively mundane recap of a game between the "Tigers" and a team referred to in the story as "the hilltop aggregation" that would later be known as the Yankees.
The Yankees have won all sorts of World Series, but were still 16 years from their first championship, and it wasn't their day. The headline (and its numerous sub-headlines): TIGERS BAT HOGG ALL OVER THE LOT.
The Tigers won 6-1 that day as their rightfielder, Ty Cobb, recorded four hits off Hogg, the New York pitcher. After one of them, the following description:
"Imagine a player making third from first on a bunt sacrifice along the third base foul line! That is just what Cobb did, because for the time being the whole New York infield was asleep."
Turns out the New York media was pretty tough, even in 1907.
By the 1930s, photos were appearing and the Tigers finally won the World Series on Oct. 8, 1935 on a walk-off single by Goose Goslin.
The story, which is continued from the front page, extends to a length even I couldn't achieve and features multiple sub-sections. If anyone made it to the end, they got a doozy of a conclusion: "But when the crucial moment arrived for the final killing they had a Goslin to do it, and the goose hangs high tonight."
I read that phrase and imagine a smoke-filled press box at Navin Field (Tiger Stadium), typewriters clacking away. It sounds a lot more romantic than the current setting from which I'm writing this column, tapping away on my laptop from my recliner. I'd still like to wear a fedora on the job like the old guys did, but I just don't think it would work well with a polo shirt.
There are little gems in the agate, too: advertisements for used Packards or new suits that cost less than an expensive dinner for two today. We as an industry gave up being all things to all people many years ago, but this has it all: every minor league under the sun, rowing news, even English soccer scores.
Of course, there are other Tiger triumphs: '68, '84, they're all there. I suppose when you've been at it for more than a 100 years, you can't help but have a few high points.
By 2006, the pages have full color and informational graphics - a long way from the five sub-head days of a century before.
That journey is one of the reasons I enjoy doing this so much - maybe 50 years from now, the athlete I interview tonight is going to sit down with his or her grandchild and take the same trip back in time that I did. My successors will probably look at this or one of my other columns and shake their heads at the format or the word choice.
So, hats off to my folks for a little early Christmas. I got a time machine, a professional development handbook and a comedy routine - all on a few sheets of newsprint.
Brandon Veale can be reached at email@example.com.