I never had the dream of playing Major League Baseball, being a girl and all. But for many American boys, "I want to be a Major League Baseball player" is a standard answer to the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Imagine, then, actually achieving that dream. What it must be like to step onto the field for the first time in a real big league uniform rather than a replica with your favorite player's name stitched on the back. It's one of those moments in life akin to a wedding or the birth of a child, those moments of pure joy when only the present exists. Hear the buzz of the biggest crowd you've ever played in front of. Feel the softest, best manicured lawn you've ever stepped on. Look around at the legends who play beside you.
What pain it must be for someone like John Patterson to be forced to retire before his 30th birthday because of persistent pain. The dream was there, he tasted it, he could have been one of the great ones, but it just isn't in the stars for him.
I won't forget that magical 2005 Nationals season, the new team in the crumbling stadium, the whiff of October that hung in the air until the very end. John Patterson was part of that, and I will always feel a pang of nostalgia for him and the others who played for that team. I wish John the best of luck in whatever fate holds for him. Too bad it wasn't baseball.