Saturday, November 08, 2008

You never quite get over your first glove

Sherwood Harrington unleashes some memories, including the fellow whose name was on my first baseball glove.

Unlike Sherwood's family, mine took annual trips that often included a major league game, in Connie Mack Stadium, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium. But, also unlike Sherwood's family, we didn't take many pictures once there, even before or after games, though I've got a few other souvenirs.

Once we happened to be in town at a time when my Tigers were visiting either the Yankees or the Red Sox. I honestly don't remember which, but we could "only" get outfield seats. I emphasize "only" because it meant I spent half the game with Al Kaline right there in front of me. I probably didn't see much else that day, like whether there was a big green wall or not.

But, while we didn't take a lot of pictures, my little brother Tony was a fan who could pull stats out of his hat on the spot and knew everyone in the game. When we went to a game, he would not only keep the scorecard but would then keep the program. He didn't leave much of a physical estate, but he left a real legacy in memories.

I certainly remember this game, not for the game itself but for how excited Tony was about getting to see a brand-new major league team in the historic setting of the Polo Grounds. I liked baseball well enough, but about three-quarters of the pleasure of going to these games was being with him.

Below, the scorecard. Longtime fans will want to click on the image so they can read some familiar names. Tony would have been nine at the time. I can see my father's handwriting on the first couple of Mets names, but I think the rest is Tony's work. He knew his stuff and, boy, was he serious about The Game.


Ronnie said...

And familiar handwriting.


Sherwood Harrington said...

I love this post for so many different reasons, but I'll stick with the baseball aspect in this comment:

Duke Snider batted SEVENTH? And was pinch hit for? That can't have happened very often.

I guess 8-2 is the kind of score you can expect when the league leaders play a team that's 51 games behind them in the standings and pitches a guy who's already lost 20 games by August 25th.

Your game and mine have one player in common: Marvelous Marv Throneberry, who went a combined 4 for 7 with a homer and two rbi in those two outings -- not bad!

Thanks, Mike!

Mark Jackson said...

Sherwood, that was the Duke's last season with the Dodgers, and he'd only play two more years after this. Really he was past his prime when the Dodgers moved to LA in 1958; most of the Brooklyn stars were, and Snider may have been the last playing regularly by 1962.

Mike said...

Speaking of old Brooklyn Dodgers -- When I was in Newspapers-in-Education, my counterpart at the Los Angeles Daily News was Roy Campanella's daughter. I knew her for a couple of years before this came up -- she was listed in her mother's obituary in 2004. About a year later, when (after several years of on-line acquaintanceship and a few business transactions) I finally met her in person, I went all fanboy, trying to explain how much her father mattered, not as one of the pioneers of black players in the Major Leagues, but as perhaps the first disabled people I was aware of who kept on keeping on, mostly because my father had expressed such respect for him. She certainly didn't mind -- she and her family had run a foundation after Campy's death to fund scholarships for minority students to learn to care for the disabled.

Funny thing is, you meet a lot of famous people in this business, but I was still wanting to follow her around going "You're Campy's daughter! Wow! Roy Campanella was your dad! Wow!"

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, Mike. Will share it with your nephew who has some of these genes from both his father and his Uncle Tony!

Sis in Sleepy Hollow

Adam said...

Too bad Kaline played right (mostly). If he played left I could tell you with relative certainty that you were in the "House That Ruth Built". Back then there were no outfield bleachers behind the Monstah.

But then, if there were.....I guess you'd probably remember him playing thirty feet below you.

Younger or older, brothers can be fascinating, no?

Great post.

Adam Harrington (Spawn of Sherwood)

Mike said...

Actually, after I pondered a little while, I realized that it was, indeed, Fenway where I saw the Tigers. I have a vague memory of the wall, but mostly a great sense of greenness. Plus, if it had been the Tigers (my team) against the Yankees (Tony's team), we wouldn't have been able to be contained. We used to pitch whole nine-inning games against each other, with a target on the chimney where the bullseye was a strike, a little outside that a ball, then a single, etc. If you missed the (fireplace-wide) chimney, it was a home run. Sometimes I was Frank Lary, sometimes I was Jim Bunning. I know I faced Whitey Ford with some regularity, but I also know that while my lineups were pretty plain vanilla, and he would actually change catchers depending on who he was supposed to be as a pitcher, and would agonize over substitutions. And whoever was on the mound, of course, did the play-by-play.

Yeah, Adam, brothers leave some interesting memories.