I have always been able to recognize faces in the crowd. I never forget a face....honestly. It is probably one of my best talents. I just tend to be extremely observant. Maybe I should have been a detective. Anyhow, as a child of an airline employee I have spent countless hours in airports across the country and over the years I have seen plenty of celebrities, sports personalities and the like. I have even struck up some brief conversations with a few of them. Some on my list include Greg Lougainis (before I began referring to him as Greg Loose-anus), Brett Hull, Joe Carter, Trent Reznor (got his autograph/lead singer of Nine Inch Nails for the musically challenged) and now I can add Ron Gardenhire to my list.
Ron Gardenhire? Some people who are sports fans may not even know who that is, but there he was waiting to board a flight to Chicago from Tulsa, OK. The fact that he was in Tulsa completely through me off his scent initially, but after a few glances in his direction I figured out that the Minnesota Twins manager was for some reason flying from Tulsa to Chicago. The fact that he was in Tulsa made me question whether he was even still the Twins manager. Why would he be in Tulsa in the middle of the first half of the baseball season? No clue, but no douby about it Ron Gardenhire was on my flight.
I thought about approaching him to ask why he was in Tulsa, but chose not to. He seemed pretty uncomfortable and was moving around the terminal quite a bit so I decided not to bother him.
After a t-storm delay we finally boarded the plane and Mr. Gardenhire was sitting in first class. My last chance to say something. All I could think to say was "Go Indians" just to let him know that I knew who he was but was not a fan of his team. Something kept me from saying it though and I am glad.
As soon as I could get on-line I began to look for info about why he might have been in Tulsa and there it was. His 54 year old brother had died and he was in town for the funeral. There were even some quotes in the story that showed that he was deeply hurt by the loss of his brother and the last thing he needed was some fan popping off about baseball. I was so relieved that I left him alone and did not bother this man who was in pain.
As a sports fan I always become excited when I see someone who is an elite athlete or coach and my enthusiasm makes me want to interact with these people, but thankfully this time my restraint was intact and I did not act on my instincts of ethusiasm. Even though we see these people on SportsCenter and they seem larger-than-life the truth is that most of them are very down-to-earth normal people.