When I was 10, I went to an Albuquerque Dukes (AAA Dodgers farm team, now the Albuquerque Isotopes) game with my grandmother, the biggest baseball fan in the world.
They announced that night was Bob Feller Night. He would be signing autographs by the food court.
I didn't have a clue who he was, but my grandmother did. She'd watched his entire career and knew he was in the Hall of Fame. He'd won a World Series and was the first Major League ballplayer to volunteer to serve in World War II. Grandmother was as excited as could be.
So I grabbed the funny pages from the newspaper my mom was reading during the game (not the biggest baseball fan in the world), and ran downstairs.
I waited in line for 45 minutes, missing every pitch in between. There were tables lined up with pictures of him pitching his fastball for the Cleveland Indians. Each picture cost $1, but I didn't have any money. I didn't know it was mandatory.
When I got up to him, I handed him my folded-up newspaper.
"Hi! Can you sign this for my grandmother?"
He tossed it back at me, and barked, "Buy a photo, kid!"
I started crying.
People in line started booing.
He snatched the newspaper back and signed it (there IS crying in baseball!).
I ran away.
I gave the autograph to my grandmother. "I got this for you, Grandmother."
She took one look at my face and asked what was wrong. I told her Bob Feller yelled at me.
"Then I don't want it."
She handed it back to me.
I keep that autograph to this day for two reasons. First, it's a great piece of memorabilia to show my son when he grows up. But second, and more importantly, I keep it to remind myself of the lesson my grandmother showed me that day - it's easy to throw away your reputation.
Bob Feller spent 20 years earning the respect of people like my grandmother, and 3 seconds tossing that respect away for $1.
Maybe Bob Feller was the kindest man in the world. Maybe he just had a bad day; we all do. I don't know.
So when you're having a bad day, remember - don't throw it away for something cheap.
Has baseball ever made you cry?