So here is Danny Ainge.
Every time I come across a reference to Ainge’s baseball career, I remember that I forgot about it. But the great 3-point shooter logged an Ichiro-an season’s worth of plate appearances (721) over a three-year MLB career — most of it played while he was still in college at Brigham Young. He holds the Blue Jays club record for youngest player to hit a homerun. He was the subject of a legal battle between the Jays and the Boston Celtics, wherein a “four-man, two-woman panel” ruled that the Celtics would have to buy his contract from the Jays, lest they be guilty of contract interference.
In basketball, he went on to become a fan favorite. In baseball, he was . . . forgettable.
We witness him in the above photo possibly trying to forget himself, or at least trying to forget that part of his life he spent playing baseball. The photo, perhaps snapped just at the end of a sigh, wistfully suggests Ainge’s brief MLB career. He would hit just one additional homerun, and post a batting average below that infamous Mendoza Line in his final season with the Blue Jays.
Yet the work wore him thin: in the inset below, we see that by the end of his baseball days his batting gloves were held together by dental floss.
His hand limply holds the bat, as if ready to drop it. Even his hat sits weakly on his head as he sets his face to the winds of change. He is bored of baseball.
Perhaps propelled by his famous coast-to-coast, game-winning drive against Notre Dame in the 1981 NCAA tournament — accomplished while his Blue Jays teammates were at spring training — Ainge walked away from baseball and toward very fine playing and management careers in the NBA that clearly excited him more than hitting .220 ever could.
So, good for you, Danny. You have achieved your afternoon delight.
This is the second “column” whose title begins with the words “Afternoon Delight” that this picture of Danny Ainge in a Blue Jays uniform has been featured in. Even though I had already started writing this when I realized this insane coincidence, I think more than a hat tip is due Celtics Life.
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