Excerpt for Observations of a Drifter Vol II ; Insights and Stories from a Drifter. by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Observations of a Drifter

Vol II

Tennessee to New Jersey

Matthew Bryant Parham

This manuscript is an ongoing and constantly evolving work, one that I slowly add to as the years go on. Each time I make a significant addition or add more stories, I release the entirety of the work as a new volume. This particular work, Vol II, contains new stories and observations as well as all the material from the previous volume. This is done so that, if you buy the latest work, you are not missing anything from the past.

For previous readers, the table of contents is set up to specifically guide you to the new content.

For all others, I hope you find this book both entertaining and helpful.

The Beginning

For years, I have traveled. Walking different shoes, observing and recording the world around me and how my mind functioned within that world.

The idea being to record and understand every aspect of the mind; All its inner workings; Its emotions, desires, reactions to things. Understand all forms of turmoil and quell them. Over the years, I have faced down, understood, and quelled every bit of turmoil I could find, often seeking out hardships or throwing myself into new, unusual situations, trying to find/trigger some new sort of turmoil that I could understand and quell. The concept being similar to that of a vaccine; If I find it now, understand it and quell it, I will not be susceptible to it in the future. So I push and seek out struggles.

I generally go from town to town, city to city. Sometimes with money, often times with none. I travel almost exclusively by foot, though I have occasionally switched to bus, bike, hitchhiking, and rental cars. I have accumulated a lot of stories along the way, some of them quite wild.

The story is still ongoing, of course. A constant excursion and adventure.

In this book, I will share stories and quips from my travels, along with excerpts from the notebook of observations that I have been building for the past seven years.

As a preface, I would like to thank all the wonderful people that I have met along the way in these journeys. The ones that are not mentioned in these stories, but who are very dear to me. All the acts of kindness and hospitality. I very rarely use names in my works, but you know who you are, and so do I.

Table of Contents

(Vol II Content Marked with **)

Tennessee to New Jersey **

Arizona to New York State

Seattle to San Diego

Bonus Stories **


(Perspective) **

(Knowledge) **

Imagined Places

(Ice Cave) **

(Abandoned Dwelling) **

Photographs **

Tennessee to New Jersey

The beginning of a long trek from the midsouth to the northeast.

I set off, in the twilight hours of Friday the 13th, leaving the solace of my book-writing haven in Tennessee. With one, loose directive in mind; head towards New York City. A 1,000-mile endeavor by way of foot.

With no idea what awaited me in-between; what adventures might ensue along the way, what people and places might come along my path, I looked at the picturesque Aurora sky, took a deep breath, and stepped off walking down the highway.

It felt good to be walking again, down the country roads. I made my way through Clarksville and Fort Campbell, Russellville and Fort Knox; Sleeping in wooded areas and fields, under old bridges and next to creeks. Enjoying the spring-time Kentucky weather. Meeting and sharing meals with generous and friendly folks along the way. One lovely young lady pulling over in the middle of town, inviting me along for breakfast. Providing a well-welcomed conversation. A wonderful counterbalance to the long, lonesome walk that preceded it.

Eventually, the country roads began to give way to busier highways and denser residential areas.

I was getting closer and closer to one of the hearts of Kentucky.


Out of food and water, I set off into Louisville.

Though I hastily came across supplies. I continued on and roamed the city for a couple of days, observing its eccentricities and night life. Getting a taste of its culture. Fleur-de-Lis symbols, bars, and old architecture. Barbecue joints and music.

When I felt like I had my fill, I began to calculate my next move, looking for a highway to take out of the city. Taking note of the street names and trying to determine my exact location, I went over to a nearby bar and leaned against the wall. As I stood, looking at the map, a fellow from the deck above called down; one of the servers from the bar.

“Where are you headed?", he asked.

I told him my story, about my travels over the years and my current trek towards New York. After a short conversation, he invited me inside, gifting a free meal and a bit of brew. There, I was greeted by a friendly bartender and a pleasant young lady the server had been courting prior to my arrival. After an hour of talking and eating, the server offered to let me crash on his couch.

After a short, turbulent ride with an intoxicated driver, we arrived at a quaint little farm house sitting in a small, sequestered, garden-laden nook; delicately nestled in the urban landscape around it.

Stepping inside, I was greeted by an array of Jimi Hendrix and Beatles artwork. Music memorabilia adorned the walls and shelves, while knitted blankets sat draped on the couches; A warm, cozy environment. A large Siberian Husky and tiny Chihuahua, known as Uli and Boogey were the first to greet me, followed by the server's roommate, Brittany.

She quickly accepted me, herself having traveled for years, experiencing and understanding the lifestyle that comes along with it. Graciously, she invited me to stay for more than just one night

For two weeks, I stayed with the pair, having long conversations, listening to music. Very interesting and genial people. It felt like a small artistic sanctuary.

Sometime during the second week, while reminiscing about past experiences and discussing mortality. we decided to, as a trio, consume LSD and roam the night-time landscape of downtown Louisville; Testing our wits and seeking to create a new adventure. Exploring the bars and diners, meeting various groups of people, holding onto our bearings despite the effects of the LSD.

I fervently recall a stark moment where the server and I, under the peak influence of the LSD, stepped into a tiny bar and were greeted by the blaring music of a rock and roll blues band. Playing on a stage that took up a good portion of the bar, at a volume that could be startling to a sober person. We stepped in and were engulfed by the music. His gaze shot over to me, sweat rolling down the side of his head. With a frantic stare that could only be described as "Dude". A stare which, in that moment, I completely understood and agreed with.

For many days, we enjoyed ourselves, sharing stories and discussing ambitions. I really felt at home amidst the pair. But, as always, adventure began to call my name, and I knew I had to continue down the road. With a heavy heart, I exchanged contact information, said my goodbyes, and set out.

The female, Brittany, would pass away a few months later, being found cold and unresponsive in the house where we had all interacted. An abrupt end to a short life. Her travels and joyful way of interacting with friends and acquaintances did, however, leave a noticeable impact. I certainly value and carry with me the brief time we occupied together. I count it as very enjoyable experience.

Muhammad Ali

Putting Louisville in my rear-view mirror, I began to settle back into the solace and seclusion of the road. Getting further and further away from the city atmosphere. 5 miles, 10 miles, 15, 20.

The city blocks turned into neighborhoods, then the neighborhoods into fields. Until, finally, I reached the edge of the county. A giant sign stood in front of me; " You are now leaving Jefferson County". On the edge of the sign, someone had slapped a Louisville sticker.

Standing there, staring at the sticker, I was overcome by a feeling. A poignant, overwhelming sense that I was not yet supposed to leave Louisville. The forces of nature were urging me back. I sat down next to the sign, shaking my head. Twenty miles out of town, tired, I had very little interest in backtracking. But I knew I had to. Louisville was undeniably calling me back. I didn't know why, but it was.

So, I turned around, trekking the twenty miles back into town, checking into one of the local homeless shelters. There, I sat. I watched. I waited.

Two days later, Muhammad Ali died.

It was an interesting time in Louisville. A historic time. The passing of one of the most popular icons in modern history, born and bred on their streets. Muhammad Ali meant a lot to the people of Louisville.

Sitting in a community drop-in center the morning of his death, I watched the reactions. The images of 60 and 70-year-old black men with tears quietly rolling down their cheeks.

Even if you did not agree with all his views and beliefs, you could not deny the philanthropy that Ali took part in, his work on civil rights and equality; Routinely going out of his way to interact with the community, to spread good will and bring cheer to those around him, one person at a time. For that, I respected him.

The day of his death, walking around Louisville, I felt disappointed by the lack of fanfare. Sure, he had only just passed, but I had expected to see some sort of visible tribute to recognize the loss.

With all eyes on Louisville, I felt there should be some sort of visible commemoration. Resided to this, I scoured the streets and gathered a collection of materials to construct a sign; Scavenging a wooden stake, I constructed and adorned it with a large red cloth-glove and a small rectangular sign under the glove reading RIP ALI.

Quietly and somberly, for 10 hours, I carried the sign around every street of downtown Louisville; The city intermittently honking and cheering, raising their fists in the air, taking the opportunity to let go of a little grief and mourn.

As the sun began to lower, I took the sign to the namesake Ali Center downtown and stuck it in the middle of a makeshift shrine of flowers that had begun to form. A fitting place to leave it, I thought.

Over the next several days, the city began to fill with droves of fans and admirers. News cameras, celebrities, and world leaders became a common sight. Small festivities and tributes were held, leading up to the main event; the memorial service that Ali himself had spent years carefully crafting. His final farewell and message to those he would be leaving behind.

The Kindness of a Stranger

Tickets for the memorial service were a very rare commodity. The service was slated to be held in the Yum Center, a small basketball arena laid claim to by the NCAA's Louisville Cardinals. An arena that sported a mere 20,000 seats. Not enough for the local population of 500,000 residents, much less the rest of the world's population interested in attending.

With no ticket, I decided to locate myself around the arena anyway. A distinct feeling urging me to do so. The same feeling I had felt a week earlier that had led me to stop in my tracks and return to the city.

There, I sat, perched on a concrete wall, observing the massive crowds; the news trucks and helicopters; the processions of limousines and police vehicles. Everyone stood, gearing up for the memorial service, Ali's body having already been brought back to the city earlier in the day. It was there, perched in front of the arena, amidst the crowd, that a man walked up to me.

"Excuse me, do you have a ticket to get inside?”

"No sir," I said.

"Would you like a ticket to get inside?"

"Yes sir," I replied.

With that, he handed me a ticket.

Indescribable odds.

But, somehow… I had expected it.

With a ticket in hand, I headed into the arena.

I must say, I was certainly not disappointed by the service. A service planned by Ali himself, with groups of all faiths and viewpoints coming together to share a similar message; Good Will is the answer, the one thing that will surpass all else. Let all your actions contain it. And for those who are too tired or simply cannot muster good will, at the very least do not show ill will.

It was a moving service, indeed. One that lifted the spirits of the city.

The Next Step

As the days passed, things slowly started returning to normal. The crowds vacated and the news shifted.

I remained in Louisville for two more weeks, living amongst the homeless community. Making a point of exploring and taking note of some of the city's grittier aspects. That is, until I came across a flier.

"Traveling Carnival," it said. "Hiring."

Surely piquing my interest, I gave the number on the flier a call. I set up a meeting with the recruiter, packed my bags, and happily joined.

In a big red dually truck, we left. Delving into the wooded Kentucky highways and small towns, country music playing on the radio; A sharp contrast to the city life we had just left behind.

After a short trip, we arrived at the Carnival's headquarters; a single, small mechanic garage and an old pole barn filled with carnival rides and equipment. Parked in the grass was a small convoy of campers and pickup trucks, sprinkled with the 15 or so employees of the carnival.

Exactly the atmosphere I was hoping for.

I was quickly introduced to the colorful cast and assigned a room in one of the campers. For the next two days, I settled in. I rested up a bit and helped prepare the convoy for its first journey and stop.

Carnival rides and campers in tow, the line of dually trucks sped off towards small-town Indiana and the community of Lawrenceburg.

For three days, we set up the rides. One by one, like giant transformer toys, we unfolded the trailers, connected auxiliary pieces, and adorned them with lights and decorations. A large amount of work; sometimes heavy, but very satisfying and enjoyable.

With the rides all set up and prepared, we turned our sights to the small town around us. Several of the workers headed off in the trucks towards the local restaurants and bars. My interest, however, turned towards a small side road where there was said to be a large Hollywood-themed casino. An oddity, I thought. An elaborate casino on the outskirts of a small town?

Intrigued, I took off walking, hoofing the three miles of desolate road and eventually stumbling upon a large parking garage, next to which was an entrance to a seemingly large building. The entrance was grand, but I couldn't quite make out the building's exact parameters, the parking garage and trees obscuring my view of the building itself.

Allured by the entrance, I opened the doors and stepped inside. I was immediately taken aback by the sheer size of the place in front of me. It almost seemed unreal. Illogical. This massive of a building just sitting on the outskirts of a small town?

I walked through dimly-lit giant rooms, movie posters and golden fixtures adorning the walls. Flashing lights emanating from rows and rows of Hollywood-themed machines, filling the void of the giant, seemingly endless cave-like spaces.

But oddly, despite all the lights, all the fanfare and expense, the size of the building, the place seemed… strangely… empty. No one at the machines, no one walking around. I received a distinct feeling of unreality. That I had stepped into the twilight zone. That I was in limbo, temporarily separated from reality.

In that moment, that stupor was broken by the start of a song over the loudspeakers; An obscure song that was uniquely dear and meaningful to me, having played a pivotal role in providing comfort and solace during a recent, defining moment in my travels. Like the sudden appearance of an unexpected friend in a strange place, the sound met my ears.

The twilight-zone feeling intensified.

Like a wave, I was then filled with another, very powerful and familiar feeling. The same guiding feeling that had caused me to turn around and reenter Louisville.

Clearly, without words, the feeling urged me, telling me which way to go, guiding my actions. With no thought, I followed it.

Quite specifically and clearly, it took me to an old-fashioned slot machine. I put $1 in and pulled the handle; I won $10.

"Good, now go to the next one," the feeling urged. As, over the loudspeakers, another pivotal, meaningful song from the timeline of my travels started to play, I followed the feeling to the next machine and put in $1...

A $6 win.

"One more," it urged.

I stood up and went to the third machine. I sat down, put in my dollar and pulled the handle; the lights flashed, and an $8 ticket came out.

I sat there at the machine for a moment and looked around. This didn't seem real. It felt very much like a dream. As if I had been in a coma for the past 20 years, living in a mentally constructed world of travelling, writing, and adventuring; A dreamed-up, imaginary quest of gathering psychological wisdom and helping the world. And that it was now finally crumbling. The illusion was falling apart. I truly expected, at any moment, to wake up in a hospital bed.

As I sat there, contemplating the reality around me, the stories of my travels, the entirety of my experiences over the years, my writings and research, a third song came over the speakers.

The music and lyrics of Natasha Bedingfield's 'Unwritten' began to ring out.

I am unwritten
Can't read my mind
I'm undefined

I'm just beginning

The pen's in my hand
Ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you

Open up the dirty window

Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance

So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in

Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten. “

Compelled, I stood up and walked to the center of the room. Unsure of where I was going or what I was doing, I took off walking. Guided by the feeling, turning left, turning right. I navigated the casino until, finally, my eyes hit a machine. Sitting off by itself, in the middle of the floor, with a familiar voice emanating from it.

It was a Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka slot machine.

I stopped. Willy Wonka and its wondrous, fantasy-laden atmosphere was something that I had long identified as sharing and encapsulating the atmosphere felt during my travels. Having been led to this machine, I approached. Overcome with a sense of happiness and comfort, I sat for a moment, then put money into the slot.

First Pull ---- -$1 prize.

Second Pull --- $1 prize.

A Pause…

I pulled the handle a third time. The machine stopped and went silent. Artfully, an old familiar tune began to flutter out. All else around me went away as I gazed at the machine, still filled with the comfort of the guiding feeling as the words of the song began to play. A strong feeling of a presence all around me.

Come with me and you'll be

In a world of pure imagination...

We'll begin, with a spin,

Traveling in the world of my creation

What we'll see will defy... explanation.

If you want to view paradise

Simply look around and view it

Anything you want to, do it

Want to change the world?

There's nothing to it. “

With that, the rest of the casino suddenly came back into my awareness. The guiding feeling and the dreamlike sense faded. But an extreme sense of satisfaction and joy remained. I had heard what I was supposed to hear. Almost as if the Universe had called time out, led me around the casino, and sent me a message. "Keep going, Keep pushing. You are on the right track."

With that, I stepped back, satisfiedly, and headed back to the Carnival. Looking forward to the experience that lay ahead of me.

For over a month, I lived and worked with the Carnival, traveling to and setting up in a total of four towns. In the company of several Juggalos and a young doppelganger for Rob Zombie's Captain Spaulding, I spent most of my time at the top of the giant slide; The highest point in the area, watching over the grounds. Perched in the watchtower on the mountain.

I split from the carnival at the conclusion of our stay in the small, AIDS-stricken town of Scottsburg, Indiana. Having made a giant circle over the past month, we were now only 30 miles away from the spot where I had joined them, 30 miles from Louisville. The perfect opportunity to pick up where I had left off and resume my trek towards New York. After helping tear down the rides, I said my goodbyes, put on my backpack, and set off.

With a steady pace, I made my way south, swinging through Louisville and intersecting with Highway 60. Barreling east, I cut along the old familiar path, making my way to the Jefferson County sign, the place I had felt compelled to stop at and turn around from two months earlier. This time, however, I was to make it beyond. I placed my hand on the sign, bid my farewell, and continued east.

For 60 miles, I trekked. Not sure what to expect nor what was ahead of me, I strolled on. I passed through several small towns, eventually reaching a steep, windy portion of the highway; surrounded by tall, thick rock-walls, as if nestled in a canyon. Around the turns I went; left and right. Until, finally, I was greeted by the sight of an incredibly tall building in the distance.

Frankfort, Kentucky

The building was an odd sight. It appeared to be nestled directly next to thick woodlands. Almost touching the tree line. Perched on a mountain side, the whole town appeared to follow suit, surrounded by the untamed trees. As if someone had decided to build a large town in the middle of a small pasture in the wilderness.

As I strolled through the heart of downtown, gazing about, it was quiet. Few faces meandered around, but each one was friendly. It felt like a scene from Mayberry or Leave it to Beaver.

Enthralled, I set up shop and checked into the town’s shelter, joining a grand total of four other people residing there. Quite fittingly, it turned out to be the nicest, most welcoming shelter I had ever checked into. It truly felt like being in a warm, southern family-home.

Making friends and absorbing experiences, my time in Frankfort ended up bearing fruits and giving host to unexpected oddities. I met and befriended a young intellect and budding humanitarian, James Fofana. I rather enjoyed hearing his vision for and drive to the build the future. Having come to the United States as a child refugee from the embattled African nation of Sierra Leone, he ultimately grew up near Washington, D.C. Many fruitful conversations were had, ideas and information being exchanged.

Racial Tension

My time in Frankfort also lead me to bear witness to a very real and poignant example of racial tension, a subject that was very pertinent to the current events at the time, the foggy aftermath of five racially-motivated police deaths in Dallas and the shooting deaths of two black men in Baton Rouge and Minnesota still very fresh.

Here, the tension build was a slow one. It occurred between a homeless former Frankfort police officer who had quit the force several years prior due to disgust with corruption and a black shelter employee who was tasked with supervising the shelter at night and interacting with the residents. I personally watched it escalate over the course of several weeks, fueled in large part by the media reports and the divisive language being used in them.

The two men were friends when I arrived, taking part in conversations; Mutually enjoying light-hearted television shows and trading jokes. But, bit by bit, as worldly events began to unfold and vitriol began to spill from the airwaves, it began to creep into the shelter conversations.

Both men were cordial at first, but you could see them slowly becoming more and more defensive and cynical as the days wore on. As they were continuously inundated with the exaggerated language. The contempt for police officers and contempt for the black community echoing over the airwaves, extremist views from both sides seeming to get more attention and favor than the reasonable ones.

Eventually, the men’s cordial tones turned to softly spoken defensiveness, then to resentment, ultimately culminating in a physical confrontation where the shelter employee tackled the former police officer, who was left with a broken collar bone. Both men were subsequently barred from the shelter.

Both friends of mine, they came to me afterwards, individually, and shared their stories of what happened. Both men were calm and grounded, and each believed they were the victim in the whole ordeal.

And, truly, they were both right.

Gladly, now a year and a half later, I can report that both men are doing well; having garnered employment, financial stability, and housing.

Kevin Bacon

On a lighter note, my time in Frankfort was also host to an amusingly peculiar and unexpected event. Inexplicably, the actor Kevin Bacon showed up and performed a music concert in the tiny theatre downtown.

I had bewilderedly seen the concert advertised on the marquee of the theatre two weeks prior, but unfortunately, the tickets had already been sold out.

Unwilling to give up on witnessing the concert, I hatched a scheme to ascend into the parking garage next door, leap over onto the roof of the theatre, and attempt to enter the facility through a large air vent on its roof that I had noticed after doing a bit of reconnaissance on Google Earth. Success or failure, either way, I figured it would be a rousing good adventure.

30 minutes before the concert was to start, I walked to the theatre to do one final pass around and observe the surroundings.

Sitting on a bench, watching the passersby, I overhead a lady ask about returning a ticket for a friend that had not shown up. When she was told she could not get a refund, she began to hand the ticket to the teller, uttering, "Here, then, perhaps you all can resell it or give it away."

I sprang up.

"Excuse me, ma'am, but if you are giving that ticket away, I could sure use one."

She looked at me.

"OK. Here you go."

Easy enough.

With that, I happily strolled inside.

I enjoyed what was, to me, a peculiar and amusing sight. Kevin Bacon, not 40 feet away, playing guitar and singing in this tiny theatre. Playing and singing quite well, might I add.

Ironically, most of the songs he sang were folk songs about traveling the dusty roads, by foot and train, with little to no money. Surviving and drifting.

As the concert ended, he went off stage and was out of sight rather quickly. He did, however, glance my way a couple of times, possibly taking note of my appearance and my dusty hat. I later heard rumors that he was spotted in town, intermingling. In any event, I count it as a good night.

On to West Virginia

Bidding farewell to Frankfort, I set off and headed east. Passing through sprawling farmlands and race-horse country. Through the towns of Paris, Judy, and Owingsville. Olive Hill, Graysville, and Catlettsburg. Finally crossing the bridge into the state of West Virginia.

At this point, unknowingly, I was only miles away from, as I would later learn, the Heroin-overdose capitol of the United States.


My first impression of Huntington was not a pleasant one. Entering from the west, I ventured through one of the city's more run-down areas. It definitely had a gritty urban vibe; A stark contrast to the past three months of small country towns. I felt myself sinking back into city mode; the slightly raised level of adrenaline and awareness that the environment demanded.

Fortunately, the downtown area of Huntington turned out to be quite nice. Though it was, as I found out, rife with Heroin, it was at least kept clean and orderly, and everyone seemed to be polite and respectful.

My first night downtown was spent sitting outside the downtown library. A good centralized location to hold out until morning time.

It was there that I encountered the first of what would be many addicts in the city. As he approached and said hello, I could tell that he had just shot up. Having no plans to leave for the night, I decided to let him use my phone charger and watch over him while he was inevitably incapacitated by the drug.

As morning time approached, a passerby engaged me in conversation and kindly directed me to the city mission, a quaint shelter where I was greeted by a hot meal and a friendly staff. This turned out to be my base of operations for Huntington, a city which ended up occupying nearly two months of my time. Many interesting events and people made appearances during the stay.

Laundry Man

While at the mission, I ended up volunteering for laundry duty. The industrial sized washer and dryer sat in a back room with a lockable door and a small radio. In exchange for doing the linens, you were essentially provided a place where you could eat, relax, and even nap if you desired. A nice refuge from the rapidly dropping outside temperatures and the increasingly crowded lobby.

Eventually garnering the moniker of "Mr. Clean", I ended up offering to do folks' personal laundry from 7 pm to 10 pm. Though I didn't charge anything, they were always appreciative and looking out for me, bringing snacks, sodas, and money. An example of good will and respect breeding good will and respect.

College Days

As it turned out, Huntington was home to the famed Marshall University, its campus lying only a few blocks from the center of downtown.

True to form, I made a point to experience the University in some way. I explored the grounds and read the plaques, I took a drink from the memorial pool dedicated to the victims of the football team’s famed 1972 plane crash. I also sleuthed my way onto the football field and roamed around in the aftermath of a 24-21 homecoming victory, absorbing the atmosphere, participating in the celebration and festivities.

Taking that celebration to the streets, I made a point of visiting each frat and sorority house in the area, briefly going inside, doing a dance, and exiting; Eventually ending the night at a frat house with an old antique fire truck parked in the lawn. Though I generally do not drink, they showered me with alcohol, and I accepted. Handing me beer after beer as I told them stories from my travels. After 13 or 14 beers, I finally called it a night and headed back to the shelter. Unfortunately, the doors were already locked, so I spent the night outside. Crawling underneath a parked semi trailer, I dozed off and heartily rested.

Cubs win the World Series

2016 brought a historic World Series. It featured the Cubs; a team that had not won the series in 108 years, against the Indians; a team that had not won in 79 years. Interesting and enthralling on its own, certainly. But for me, it held special significance.

Growing up in the 90s, like most of the nation, I was captivated by the historic home-run race between the Cardinals’ Mark McGwire and the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa. Growing up in West Tennessee, only an hour away from the Cubs’ minor league team at the time, I had fond memories of seeing Sosa belt bombs against minor league pitching during exhibition-game gimmicks. I identified with and greatly admired Sosa’s seemingly good-natured and compassion-laced personality and gladly sported an old Cubs hat during my years as a youngster.

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