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By Jimmy Connors

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Our rivalry is about respect. He’s able to bring out more in me than any other player, and I hope I do the same for him. I’m fighting my ass off and so is he. There is nothing fake about our rivalry. ” The ump tells Mac to play on. So he does. He serves and takes the point. His next serve hits the lineswoman right in her stomach—it had to hurt. I look at her, grab my stomach, and double over sympathetically. She smiles, the fans laugh and then applaud. I’m loving it. I win the game, and at the changeover there are fireworks.

For some reason, that night at dinner, we got to talking about that jingle. Shorty, who was in his late seventies at the time, suddenly growled: “What’d she say? ” Johnny gets a call the next day from Charlie saying that Shorty wants to see him. So Johnny goes to the restaurant and there’s a box with Mom’s name on it. “This is from Shorty. He says Merry Christmas to your Mom,” says Charlie. Johnny brings the box home and we put it under the Christmas tree. The next morning, Mom opens the box and I think you can guess what was in it.

We usually didn’t ride farther than the St. Louis rail yard, but once we stayed on as far as Kansas City, which was about 300 miles away. I had never been farther from home in my life on the train. When we got home from riding the railcars with Pop, Two-Mom would give him grief and Pop would just laugh it off. He was good at that. Once Johnny and I were old enough to ride the railcars on our own, it was our favorite way to travel. If Johnny had to stay after school, he would grab a train home. If we wanted to head off into the local hills, we knew a perfect spot where we could make a soft landing.

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