When my son was 6 years old, he was by that time a devoted baseball card collector. His grandmother had sent him a few packs as part of a birthday present, and as soon as he opened them and started to lay them out in rows on the floor of his bedroom, he was hooked. He spent hours looking at them, arranging and rearranging them, and asking me to help him to read the text on the back. I then later had given him a few kids' books about legendary baseball players from years past, including Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, and many others.
One week I saw in the newspaper that a baseball card show was coming to town on the following Saturday, to a local hotel, and that several famous baseball players would be there, including none other than Joe Dimaggio, the 'Yankee Clipper' himself. We had never been to a baseball card show before, so I told my son we'd go, and that he'd get to meet a very famous baseball player (I did not tell him whom we would be meeting).
When we got there that Saturday morning, we saw set up in the hotel ballroom over 100 dealers from all over the country, sell/trading/buying not only baseball cards, but all kinds of memorabilia, like bats, balls, mitts, programs, jerseys - you name it, and it was there. We then got in a long line for the signing event. We were told by the organizers that Mr. Dimaggio would only sign something flat (no bats, gloves or balls), and fortunately we had brought with us one of my son's favorite baseball books, that had in it a full page photograph of Joe Dimaggio at bat, taken at some time in the 1940's.
We waited patiently in the slow moving line, and then, after what seemed like an eternity, especially to my young son, we approached a raised dais, where at a long table, flanked by two assistants, was none other than Mr. Dimaggio himself. When it was our turn and we were beckoned over, Mr. Dimaggio greeted us with a smile, and asked if he should just sign his name, or personalize it to my son. I told him that it was an honor to meet him, and just his signature on the page in the book would fine. My son stood there speechless, his eyes wide and full of wonder - a great moment for him, I could tell, and a great moment for me, too, not only because I was also meeting Mr. Dimaggio, but because my son was experiencing something very special.
Then, all of the sudden, my son blurted out loudly, in an incredulous tone: "Babe Ruth is dead...but you're not?!". Mr. Dimaggio, and everyone else in earshot, laughed for a long time. Then Mr. Dimaggio replied: "You're darn right, son, I am most certainly alive!" Then everyone around really started to laugh, much to the consternation of my 6 year old. He then signed the picture page, and thanked us for coming.
Afterwards, I talked to my son, to figure out why he said that to Joe Dimaggio. He explained that he thought all of the baseball players in that book were dead, and so he could not understand why Mr. Dimaggio was actually there, alive and well and signing his book. I
Joe Dimaggio did pass away some years later, and by that time my son was 13, and his baseball card collecting days had been long over, taken over by an interest in the game of baseball itself, as a Little Leaguer. But on that we talked about our experience at the baseball card show, and we remembered Mr. Dimaggio's sense of humor and gracious manner - our own personal father/son memory, of a baseball legend 'come to life'.