After hearing that Barry Williams was touring at minor league ballparks this year, I quickly searched the dates for the games that were closest to my area. Luckily he was to be in Altoona, PA the weekend of my husband's birthday! I went online and immediately ordered tickets and excitedly announced to my husband and family my idea of the perfect way to spend his birthday weekend. Not that my husband is a big Brady Bunch fan, but he DOES like baseball, so he was happy and I was ecstatic.
Altoona is still about 3 hours from us, so we made hotel reservations for the night before the game. The day before was raining all day and the day of the game was iffy, so I prayed all day it would not be rained out. Well, it wasn't, but since the game was rained out the day before, they ended up playing a double header and therefore started the game an hour earlier than scheduled, so I arrived during the second inning to find out that I had missed hearing Barry sing the National Anthem. Oh well, they announced he would be signing autographs until the 7th inning, so I grabbed my camera and my son and waited on line.
The fans were quite diverse. There were the older women, my age ( 40 something) that I expected, but there were a lot more teenage girls. And they genuinely seemed excited to meet him!! Then there were the misfit type men of my generation, mostly overweight and balding, I guess just trying to regain lost youth. The line was not very long. Perhaps 150 people at most and though there were a few security people from the stadium, Barry was alone. He did not have books to sell or an agent handing out photos. He just sat there in his Altoona Curves jersey complete with Williams on the back, signing away. Mostly he signed the team's playbooks that are handed out when you enter the stadium, but some had his Growing up Brady books. I chose my old paperback of The Brady Bunch - Mystery of Treasure Island, from 1972. I figured he might comment on it's uniqueness.
As I got closer, my heart started racing. I worked in the music industry in the 1980's and met my fair share of rock stars and comedians. I dated brother's of famous people and even got in trouble with Weird Al Yankovic as he refused to do an interview unless I was the engineer. ( Sidenote - He terrified me and I did not want to work with him!) - BUT here was my childhood idol. I felt so many mixed emotions. I wanted to hug him and tell him about the impact he had on my life, but I knew there would be no time to make any sort of lasting impression, so I just concentrated on trying not to look ridiculous and making sure that my son knew how to work my camera.
Finally it was my turn and I went from being a somewhat in control mother of 3, to a sweaty, giggly overgrown teenager!! I apologized to Barry that I was so excited as he was so calm and seemingly bored with all the hoopla. He signed my book before I even told him my name and I suggested that they should have put him facing the other way so that he could watch the game while meeting the fans. He responded by saying the he believes the idea is that they want the FANS to be able to watch the game, not him. HE seemed a bit condescending, so I asked if my son could take our picture and leaned in and he obliged. HE never even commented on my old, yellowed paperback that I had saved for over 30 years in hopes of someday meeting " A Brady".
SO, it was not the long awaited union I had always dreamed of where he asks the rest of the fans to wait while we go off and share a soda and talk about old times, but it was a dream fulfilled. I felt bad that he was like a sideshow freak with strangers taking his picture and waiting to get close to him. It is not a life I would have chosen and perhaps, he is not so happy with it all either, but I do thank him for allowing us to get close to him even if just for a few seconds.
Jim Thorpe, PA