From the exact spot where my dog and I were walking in Topsham, Maine, to Yankee Stadium at East 161st Street, Bronx, New York, is 278 miles.

At mile one, I was standing aside a trail as little kids with race tag numbers pinned to their shirts ran by me. Echo and I had somehow wandered into a cross-country meet. Two runners, followed closely behind by their mother, stopped to ask if they could pet Echo. They were not future Olympians because they were happy to sacrifice their final time for the sake of getting a few doggy pats in. Of course, I was happy to oblige. My dog likes kids, and the mother seemed totally fine taking a moment to stop running, too.

As the kids petted my Lab, the mother jokingly said, “I really shouldn’t be allowing my children to get near you. You’re wearing a Yankees hat.”

I just looked at her and smiled, because what do you say to such a confession?

She added, “I named my son ‘Boston,’ so that should tell you something.”

That did tell me something, but not something I wanted to say aloud. Then awkwardly, we parted ways, her troop going down the trail, my corps going up. But before we got out of hearing range, she unleashed one final salvo: “I’m going to raise my kids to make fun of people who wear Yankee hats.”

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I am reminded of that old Emo Phillips joke where a person, let’s call him Bill, comes across a man about to jump from a bridge. They start up a conversation and discover they belong to the same religious denomination. However, when Bill learns that the jumper belongs to the “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912” and not the “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879,” Bill calls the jumper a heretic and pushes him off the bridge.

But before you send me into the sea with a push because I like the Yankees, consider. Would life be better for you and me if, instead of acting to filter out others, we looked for ways to filter them in?

I eat tuna fish, Boston’s mom. Do you?

The mother of Boston missed an opportunity to ask me if I had children. I do. I missed an opportunity to ask her if she had a dog. I’ll never know. What else could we have filtered in?

Nearly 300 miles away from Yankee Stadium, we could have discussed the pets we loved from childhood and the life lessons they had taught us. We could have discussed the costly, unexpected repair bills and summer plans. And maybe, if things went very, very well, we could have talked about our love of baseball, our favorite players and what it felt like the first time she and I went to our respective baseball stadiums and saw the holy green, perfectly cut grass of the outfield. We could have relived that moment again with each other. But we didn’t.

So what is left to say as I sit looking at my screen 278 miles away from where a dying Lou Gehrig called himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth”? Along the 5.4-hour drive to Yankee Stadium, would Boston’s mom and I uncover more differences between us, or what we have in common?

Like Gehrig and you reading these words, we are more than the Major League Baseball teams we root for. I think – let’s be honest – I really, really hope – Boston’s mom is as well.

Go Yankees!


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