The Boomer Story
In August 1995, I took my 18U Marylanders team to play in the American Fastpitch Association (AFA) International Friendship Tournament. During our stay, the team took a day trip to one of my favorite places on the earth, Venice Beach. Many of my players got temporary tattoos, and picked up one for me – a really mean looking bulldog holding a big stick. I think it really had more to do with a motorcycle style bulldog, drawn to look very mean, but my players thought it was perfect. I wore the tattoo for the tournament, and had a great time with it. The seed was set in my mind – I wanted a permanent one. Of course, I wanted something that will be meaningful to me for the rest of my life.
In November of 1995, I got word that I would be inducted into the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame in 1996. That is when I made the final decision, and I set everything in motion. I took a photo of me in the ‘contact position’, and took it to a local artist. She drew to my specification… “take this photo, and I want you to draw a very mean looking bulldog in EXACTLY this position”. I think she did a great job, and I am very sorry that I don’t remember her name.
Then came the next stage, finding the right tattoo artist. I visited several tattoo parlors, but as I walked into every one, I said to myself “I am not letting anyone I see in this place come near me with a needle”. Some of those places and people were pretty frightening. Plus, it had to be someone with great artistic ability, because it was a custom drawing rather than a standard template.
In June 1996, while searching the internet, I happened upon an article about tattoo conventions. They talked about a huge international convention held in Dunstable, England…. Wherever that is…. The greatest tattoo artists from all over the world were there – and the top award, for “Best Tatooist”, was awarded to Kari Barba from Outer Limits in Anaheim, CA.
As luck would have it, I was taking my 1996 team back to Anaheim that year in August. So, I called Kari, faxed her my drawing and we scheduled an appointment for the day after my arrival. I liked everything about the original drawing, except the face… there was just something wrong with it. Kari redrew the face for me, with a square jaw – wah-lah – perfect! Let’s go for it! Kari drew it on the outside of my right leg (so when I am coaching 3rd base, the team in the dugout can check it out) – I checked it in the mirror – I loved it – she finished the job in less than an hour. I was pretty nervous going in, because this is my first and probably my only tattoo. The instant I met Kari I felt completely at ease. She is a very nice lady in addition to being a fabulous tatooist. I never even flinched.
We had a ‘naming contest’ with my girls. Among the candidates were ‘Tater’ – which is a nickname for a homerun, as in “you must eat lots of ‘Taters if you want to hit the ball out of the park” … ‘Big, Dumb, and Ugly’ – which I did not appreciate at all …. ‘The Big Boy’ … and one of my favorites “FarHitter” which the girls came up with – they thought it was hilarious when you say that name really fast several times, but I over-ruled the choice, and removed it from consideration.
Final name “Boomer”, because that is what it sounds like when he hits the ball – BOOM!