This is a photograph of the last hand I shook.
It belongs to Chili Davis, longtime Major League slugger and current hitting coach for the New York Mets.
I spoke with Davis last March, outside the batting cages at the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie. We stood in the sun as the familiar bat-on-ball sound of WHOP! WHOP! WHOP! rose from behind. He was friendly and talkative and as lovely as his reputation suggested (Davis has long been known as one of sports’ genuinely good guys). The conversation lasted for, oh, 15 minutes, and—because COVID had just started being this … thing we were all aware of—I thanked him for his time, turned to walk off, then …
Chili Davis reached out to shake.
I was a tiny bit taken aback. But, in hindsight, it’s sorta cool.
I grabbed his hand. Or he grabbed mine. For those two seconds I was shaking hands with Chili Davis. When the moment ended, I walked off, found a bathroom, washed my hands and—shortly thereafter—learned that spring training was coming to an abrupt halt, and I’d be returning home.
One day, I imagine, we’ll probably all be back shaking hands, and no one will think much of it. But, just maybe, this is the end/beginning of a cultural shift. Perhaps the hand shake will forever be a thing of the past, and from now on we’ll nod, or elbow bump, or just bow clumsily.
If that’s the case, I’m golden.
I wrapped with Chili Davis.