Walking in Memphis…On the Streets of Tokyo!

While in Memphis recently for business, I had the pleasure to stay at The Peabody Hotel (http://www.peabodymemphis.com/), which basically puts you in the heart of downtown Memphis.  As I was exploring the area, I happened upon AutoZone Park, home of The Memphis Redbirds (http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t235).  Sadly, during my visit, the team was away, so no baseball for me.  But, back in 2005, when I went searching for Graceland, I did have a chance to see a game and I really was impressed.  Its was a “big league” park, in a minor league bracket.

I’ve only been to two minor league games, one in Austin, and this one in Memphis, so I didn’t have a lot to compare it to, but I loved what I saw.  There was a pure love of the game that was visible in the fans and the players, all encompassed in a park that was perfectly situated in downtown.  It had a welcoming vibe, as if it was saying, “Come one, come all.”  It added to my love of the game, and left a very deep impression on me and my baseball memories.

Fast forward to Tokyo, December 2010.  [I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell does Memphis have to do with Japan?”  (Trust me, you’ll be surprised).]

I was days from moving back to the US.  I would soon be leaving my room on the 49th Floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, and since I was a guest in residence, but no longer an employee, I was finally afforded access to the guest elevators.  A perk for sure!  A man entered the elevator and his ball cap caught my attention.  It had a scripty “M” on it.

I stood in confusion for a minute…”Which team had an M on it?”  So, I finally just asked.

He looked over and said, “It’s a minor league team you’ve probably never heard of.”  I said, “Try me, I’m a big baseball fan.”

“The Memphis Redbirds,” he said!

Get out!

I proceeded to spew my fondness for minor league ball, the visit I made before I left for Japan, how I enjoyed the devotion of the fans, the effort by the players who were all trying to “make it to the show,” and how I truly enjoyed Autozone Park.

Half way through my “soliloquy,” he just began to smile and nod in agreement. 

“What did I say that made you smile,” I said.

“I used to own that team, and I built that park,” he said.

Get out!

He introduced himself at Dean (Dean Jernigan, to be complete, http://tinyurl.com/n73e8wp), shook my hand and said, “Thank you for that.”

It was one of the best elevator conversations I have ever had, and in that instant, as I was staring at Autozone Park in late May, did I take a walk done memory lane to recall that moment.

Baseball really is the tie that binds…from the Graceland to the Land of the Rising Sun!


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