My Uncle Gary related the story as we headed for Goldfield Ghost Town in Arizona.
It was, he said, a combination of fact and fiction, and it was hard to ascertain where one stopped and the other began.
It was a perfect tale for something referred to as the Superstition Mountains.
My uncle related the story of a Dutchman who found a large goldmine, but never shared its location. Since, many have tried to find the mine. No one has. Some of the searchers never have returned.
As it turns out, there are several versions of "The Lost Dutchman's Goldmine," ( I know this because I immediately looked it up on my iPhone as we headed for the Superstition Mountains. Even ghost towns can't hide from WiFi).
Knowing a little of the story, and walking the grounds, gave the day's trip an almost mystical bent. Sure, there was probably nothing to the stories about how there was some spirit or curse protecting the location of the gold.
And yet, as I watched a storm crawl across the sky that sat above the mountains, I wondered:
What if ...
It's not that one wants to believe in evil spirits or curses. But it did hit me that in sports, especially in baseball, we believe in the supernatural, in legends, without even realizing it.
In baseball, there is the story of Babe Ruth's called shot, when he supposedly pointed to the Wrigley Field bleachers during the 1932 World Series just before placing a baseball there for a homer.
By most accounts, Ruth never actually pointed, merely gestured to the fans. A number of Cubs disputed that Ruth ever called his shot at all.
That hasn't stopped everyone from the kid in the backyard to the fictional Jake Taylor from imitating the legend. It's practically accepted it happened.
But me, I choose to believe Ruth knew he was going to hit a homer, and decided to let everyone know.
I don't know what Ruth did that day. It happened some 48 years before I was born. But sometimes it's nice to believe.
Many of my friends believe there's a curse on Cleveland sports. That's a curse I'd choose to ignore. But 49 years without a title has a way of making you wonder.
Regardless, the stories of stars from the past often begin with "it's been said" or "legend has it."
Sure, maybe "Shoeless" Joe Jackson never played in his socks.
Maybe slugger Josh Gibson never hit a ball that didn't come down the next day (OK, I'm certain that one isn't true.)
And maybe there is no Dutchman's gold mine.
And yet, we always see things, hear things, believe things that aren't always the most logical.
I'm not sure about you, but I'm OK with having some things in our lives that can't be destroyed by cynicism, or worse, reality.
What if ...