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Starry-eyed with Smoltz

Two years ago, I was able to fill this space with jittery feelings I'd experienced while interviewing country music star Tracy Lawrence.

Last week, I was once again in a situation where the cat had my tongue and butterflies filled my stomach as I stood with my arm around someone famous. This time, though, it was different.

I'm not at all a fan of country music, so when I had heard that I would interview Tracy Lawrence, I naively asked "Who's she?". My colleagues at the office guffawed loudly and quickly set me straight on how impressed I should be.

However, last Thursday, no one had to educate me on the greatness of Major League Baseball pitcher John Smoltz. My Daddy trained me well, and I know a good baseball player when I see one.

As I stood in the Augusta Greenjackets locker room and gazed into Smoltz's light blue eyes, my ears heard what he was saying, but my mind could not think of a single response to say back. Since it was a meeting with the press, I had questions to ask him, but could never actually get the words out. When I was offered the opportunity to have my picture made with the former Atlanta Braves star, I know I stood beside him, but it was too surreal.

I had been excited all day at the prospect of seeing him pitch that night. Even though I was too far away to read his jersey, I immediately recognized his "trot" as he came out on the field to warm up before the game. And even though he's a normal human being, I cried real tears every inning that he came out on the mound.

When my son, James, was in second grade, his school had a pumpkin-decorating contest for Halloween, where the students dressed a pumpkin like their favorite character. James wasted no time painting a beard on his pumpkin and making a Braves hat, creating a John Smoltz image that won second place.

When James was 10, Smoltz came to Augusta to speak at a men's prayer breakfast. James was the only "man" who was too young to shave that morning before the breakfast. There, James had his picture made with his pitching hero.

I hung that picture on my cubicle at work when I first came to The Mirror. A colleague (one of those who couldn't believe I'd never heard of Tracy Lawrence) asked me if that was my husband in the picture. "I wish," I replied, as I set her straight on how impressed she should be.

At the ballgame last week, when I returned to my seat, I excitedly showed the picture on the camera to James. Being the typical teenager, he shrugged his shoulders unimpressed and said, "Now we both have a picture with him."

I really didn't need to, but I set him straight.

Web posted on Thursday, May 28, 2009

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