Marc Wilkins, Pop-Tarts, and bizarre crushes (and what we do for both)
Silliest baseball sports crush ever. I mean really awful. Worse than my secret loves for Randy Johnson (Tall! And smart!), Jeff Bagwell (Those forearms! The red hair! ), and Jose Canseco (Big!). For some reason, that summer of 1997 I totally was in <heart> with Pirates pitcher Marc Wilkins.Maybe it was his blue eyes, round face, and the slight bit of chub he carried around that did for me that summer of 1997. Maybe it was because the Pirates finished just under .500 that season, but he was 9-5 with 2 saves. Maybe it was because someone told me I could totally “get him”. (I was younger and definitely dumber ten years ago, so the latter was probably the case.)
At the time I worked in a museum gift shop. Not the most exciting gig in the world, but not worst place to work either. When it was slow, we’d sit around and talk about guys we were dating and parties, lame old people that came to the museum to look at glass, and sports.
I had one co-worker, Amy, who was a die-hard Pirates fan. Her family had been season ticket holders since before she was even born and she went to as many games as she could, considering she had about five brothers to fight over tickets with. One Saturday afternoon Amy and I were sitting at the counter discussing if we could date a Pirate, which Pirate would we want to date. Up until this point Marc Wilkins had just been a passing fancy, but I threw his name into the mix. Just as I said his name, “Marc Wilkins”, an older man came to the register. I don’t think I even looked at him when he handed me the postcards he was buying. He handed me the bills and I gave him back a few coins in change.
“Marc likes Pop-Tarts.”
“Marc likes Pop-Tarts,” he said again. I looked down at his hand as he took his bag. 1979 PIRATES WORLD SERIES RING! GOOD LORD! Maybe he knew what he was talking about!
“What kind???”, I yelled out after him as he started to walkout of the shop.
“Strawberry”, he said with a wink and a smile. “You should bring him some. You can get him.” I spent the rest of the day planning, “Operation Give Marc Wilkins Strawberry Pop-Tarts”.
Two weeks later, I had my chance. A couple of guy friends of mine had lower level seats for the Pirates-Mets game and they invited me along. I went with two boxes of Strawberry Pop-Tarts in hand; one for me to give to Marc Wilkins and one for him to sign for me and hopefully put his phone number on. (Did I mention before I was rather dumb in 1997?) We arrived very early, and I bravely went to the corner by the bullpen, waiting for Marc Wilkins to walk by me after warm-ups.
1997, again, was not a good year for the Pirates. There was hardly anyone there, save for a few guys who were sitting a few rows back from where I stood alone, who had driven down from New York for the series. (My guys of course wanted nothing to do with my plan and were back in our seats.) One of the New Yorkers eventually asked what I was doing, and I told them my intension of trying to give Marc Wilkins Pop-Tarts because I thought he was really cute. They all thought it was a pretty good plan and agreed really, who doesn’t like Pop-Tarts? So they wished me the best of luck.
Eventually, Marc Wilkins started to make his way to the bullpen with another player. I was so nervous, why was I doing something so stupid? He got closer and closer. My corner was just above where he was going to walk by and I thought I was going to fall over the railing I was so scared. But he was getting closer, and I needed to be cool. Cool enough to date a pitcher.
“Marc! You want some Pop-Tarts?” I held up a box. He looked at me like I was insane. (Which of course, who wouldn’t look at a girl holding up a box of Pop-Tarts in the middle of a Major League ballpark that way?)
“No, no thanks,” he said and kept walking. I panicked. He was not going to take the Pop-Tarts! What am I doing?!?!?
“They’re strawberry!” I called out as he made his way to the giant bench in the pen. He shook his head no. Really??? Did I just lug two boxes of Pop-Tarts into Three Rivers Stadium to be embarrassed?!?! Really, what is wrong with me?
And then it got worse.
“How can you not take the Pop-Tarts! That girl is hot! I’d take Pop-Tarts from her any day!” I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about five or six New Yorkers heckle out of their element, but the sound gets even more shrill the further away they are from Shea.
“Fuck you Wilkins for not taking her Pop-Tarts!” they yelled down into bullpen. Not only did Marc Wilkins refuse my Pop-Tarts, but now I had managed to sic the enemy on him. By the look on his face, he was not only never going to take my Pop-Tarts, but he was probably going switch to Toaster Strudel.
I tried to calm the New Yorkers down, said it was ok, and asked them if they would be quiet if I gave them the Pop-Tarts. After much pleading, eventually a peace was made and I went back to my seat empty handed.
My buddies looked at me and I will never forget what I said next- “Maybe Amy’s right. I am way more of a Jason Kendall girl.”