Though my parents brought me up to say thank you and your welcome at appropriate times, I could never master ‘please.’ It sounds too much like begging to me so I never use the word; in fact, I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone say ‘please.’ But thank you is important as this lesson will illustrate.
Alvin Davis was the Seattle Mariners first true star. He arrived in Seattle in 1984. He did not make the opening day roster, but an injury to Ken Phelps the first week brought Davis up as a fill in, making his debut April 11th. Before the month was over he was leading the team in average, hits, doubles, homers, and rbis. By seasons end, the left-hand hitting first baseman was named American League Rookie of the Year.
In his first seven years he hit between .271 and .305 and had between 17 and 29 homers every season. He was consistent each of those seasons, but in 1991 at the age of thirty he hit .221 after hitting ,280 the previous season. After the season he became a free agent, signed with the Angels, but was released in late June, hitting .250 with no homers and 16 rbis as a part time player. When it goes, it can go fast. He never played in the majors again. But he was the first inductee in the Seattle Mariner Hall of Fame.
Back in the Kingdome Days of the 1980’s, once a year the Mariners would have picture day. Fans were allowed on the field-or turf, if you will- behind a roped off area stretching from behind first base to third base. The players walked down the line posing for pictures and signing autographs-at least some, others said the team said not to sign.
But Alvin signed. He was always smiling, always friendly, always the good guy. I noticed, however, that as he worked his way down the line, fans asked for and received autographs and after Alvin handed back the autograph, the fans quickly left, moving on to another player. When this happened Alvin’s smile left his face quicker than King Felix throwing a strike. When he got to me, I politely asked Alvin to sign my program, which he did. I then said, “Thank you Alvin. I appreciate it.” He gave me a big smile. I knew he was grateful that somebody had the decency to actually say those two words, two words that meant something to him.
I think it goes to making a person feel like a person, not a piece of meat. I don’t know if I have that autograph anymore, but I still see his face lighting up when I said thank you. So next time you get an autograph from a player, say thank you with meaning. A lot of players are good guys.