AN ARTICLE FOR BASEBALL GURU:MAY: FROM ONEMOREINNING
FATHER & SON
JUNE: NINETEEN NINETY
RING RING RING
HERB: Hi dad, howya doing?
SOL: He l l l lo sonny boy. Im doing fine.
HERB: You all set for tomorrows game.
SOL: I sure am. What time do you want me to pick you up?
HERB: Well, the game starts at two. Why dont you get here at about 12:30. Its only about a fifteen minute ride to the Stadium.
SOL: 12:30. OK, I can do that. Ill just buzz you from downstairs and you can come to the car. Should I bring some of moms sandwiches?
HERB: No. I have to watch my cholesterol and the blood pressure and its better if I make my own. Just dont come too early like you did last year.
SOL: No, no. Ill come at 12:30 like you said. Should I bring some fruit?
HERB: Nope. Just come around 12:30. OK?
SOL: Yeah, no problem. See you tomorrow.
BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ
CONCIERGE: Your son is here.
HERB: My son, which one? Todd or Lon?
CONCIERGE: ( a pause). Your son Sol.
HERB: My son Sol? No thats my dad.
CONCIERGE: Just a minute he says hes your son wait now he says hes Sol Rogoff.
HERB: I dont believe this. Its my dad. Put him on please.
SOL: He l l l lo sonny boy. Im here.
HERB: Dad its only 10:30. I told you to come at 12:30. What are you doing here now?
SOL: I thought I would come a little early. We dont want to get there too late.
HERB: Whats too late? Its only 10:30. The game starts at 2:00. Its a 15 minute ride to the Stadium.
SOL: Well, you never know what can happen.
HERB: I dont believe this!
ON THE ROAD
SOL: Why do they let him get away with all that?
HERB: Whos that? By the way, lets turn off at 161st street and well go into the lot on the corner.
SOL: Hes like a Hitler and everyone follows him. Ive never seen anything like it.
HERB: Who is that?
SOL: That Hussein. A regular monster. We should go in there and kill him.
Herb: I dont think Its that easy to do.
SOL. Whats to do? You go in and shoot him down. Hes insane. Hell probably kill everyone around him.
HERB: We have to see what happens.
SOL: I say you kill him. Why wait for trouble.
HERB: Heres the Stadium now.
and now from Ireland, we present for your entertainment the Arklow Marching Band. As two ballplayers walked nonchalantly by, the Arklow National Marching Band, with drums booming away, brass echoing across the stadium, came zig zagging across the field, playing a very snappy rendition of Its a Small World. They formed circles, quadrangles, marched up and down (legs kicking in the air) and above everything else you could hear the leaders voice (a girl) screaming out commands. Dressed in orange red and deep purple pants, holding the Irish flag, two non descript small flags, and an enormous stars and stripes, they then proceeded to play American military songs: Ya ta tah, ya ta tah, ya tat tah ta ta ta
as the caissons go marching along Anchors aweigh my boys, anchors aweigh Off we go into the wild blue yonder (my favorite) and they managed to get The Yellow Rose Of Texas in there as well. They were wonderful.
Bob Sheppard made a series of announcements that could be heard distinctly throughout the Stadium (which had very few people in it). dont go on the field while the IBM homerun hitting contest is going on would you like to announce a game through the Budweiser fantasy play by play booth Jim Leyritz is defensive player for the month of May.
IN THE STANDS BEFORE THE START OF THE GAME
HERB: Not too crowded today
SOL: A lot of people probably went to the beach today. Whats that down there, the bleachers?
HERB: Yup, when I was a kid thats where I sat.
SOL: Yeah, and you caught a lot of balls.
HERB: Yeah, and do you remember when I caught three in one game?
SOL: I remember that.
I WONDERED IF HE REALLY REMEMEBERED EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT GAME. I DID! I HAD CAUGHT TWO HOMERUNS
HIT INTO THE BLEACHERS AND AROUND MID-GAME, YANKEE PITCHER FRED SANFORD HIT A HOMERUN INTO THE BLEACHERS AS WELL. I WENT FLYING INTO THE AIR AND MADE A TERRIFIC, LUNGING CATCH OF THE BALL. I WAS IN HEAVEN. THE CROWD ERUPTED INTO APPLAUSE AND IT WAS AN UNHEARD OF THIRD CATCH OF THE DAY. EXCEPT THAT SOME OLD MAN SITTING BEHIND ME (AND TO THIS DAY I STILL REMEMBER HIS FACE) CLAIMED I GRABBED THE BALL OUT OF HIS HANDS. IT WASNT TRUE. It WAS JUST A SIMPLE, EXTRAORDINARY, INCREDIBLE CATCH AND HE WAS NOWHERE NEAR IT. PERIOD. BUT SUDDENLY I HEARD MY FATHER SAYING, OF COURSE HELL GIVE IT TO YOU, HE HAS TWO OTHER BALLS, HE WONT MIND. I COULDNT BELIEVE WHAT I WAS HEARING. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? HE WAS NOWHERE NEAR THE BALL. PEOPLE AROUND ME WERE NODDING IN AGREEMENT. IM NOT GIVING UP THIS BALL! THERES NO WAY THAT GUY IS GETTING THIS BALL FROM ME! MY FATHER REACHED OVER AND VERY FIRMLY TOOK THE BALL OUT OF MY HAND AND GAVE IT TO THE MAN. I SAT THERE, NOT BELIEVING THIS HAD JUST HAPPENED. MY WORLD HAD BEEN DESTROYED.
Mike Witt threw a high, inside fastball to Ken Griffey Jr. I had bad feelings about both men. About a month before, I had asked Mike if I could interview him for One More Inning. He said OK, sat down with me and then proceeded to answer all my questions with either a yes or no or an apparently. This went on for about ten minutes. I finally said, This isnt going too well, is it? He answered back, Apparently not! I walked away and I heard him laughing in the background. My Ken Griffey story took place a few years back when he was playing Minor League ball with Vermont. I asked for his autograph. Got it and told him that now I had the autographs of both Griffeys. He looked up at me and said, I dont give a fuck whos autographs you have.
SOL: Ho, ho. Right on top. Imagine that, the guy never suspected that.
HERB: Thats Ken Griffey Jr. I saw him play with Vermont. Hes going to be a terrific ballplayer.
SOL: Uh oh. Theres a ground ball. Hes out.
Oscar Azocar was now up.
SOL: Theres another foul ball. This guy swings at everything.
HERB: Yeah, he doesnt like to walk. He hasnt had a walk since hes been in the Majors.
SOL: The pitchers gonna let him hit it now.
Azocar hits a pop up to right field.
SOL: Aww, he hit it right up that guys got it.
SOL: Ah ha. First ball strike.
Witt throws another ball right down the middle.
SOL: There he goes again. Theyll get wise now. All he does is throw strikes. In the next inning theyll swing at the first pitch. I bet theyll start hitting him then.
HERB: Do you watch any games anymore?
SOL: Yeah, mostly the Mets.
HERB: The Mets? I cant believe that. Youve been a Yankee fan all your life. Thats how I became one because of you. How could you watch the Mets?
SOL: Dont get excited. Have some grapes.
Matt Nokes comes up to the plate. When he first came to the Majors I thought he was going to be something special. It didnt work out that way.
SOL: Come on, come on, lets get on base. Is he a good hitter?
HERB: He had one very good year. He gets hurt a lot.
SOL: You want a peach? Mom sent some apples too.
HERB: No, its alright.
SOL: Uh oh. Thats a pop-up. There he goes. Hes out. Nobody wants to hit the ball. I hope they do better the next inning.
And so they did. Jesse Barfield hit a nice, lazy, fly ball into the bleachers.
SOL: Yo, yo. Good play. He swung that very low on the bat.
Jim Leyritz gets ball three.
SOL: Three balls. The pitcherll make him walk.
As it worked out he didnt walk. Leyritz grounded out to the second baseman for the third out.
HERB: Whenre you going in for your polyp operation?
SOL: On the 28th.
Harold Reynolds is up. He swings at the first pitch,
SOL: You see theyre striking at the first pitch from now on. They know he gets the ball over.
Briley is up and takes strike three on a 3-2 count.
SOL: Ayyy. He got fooled. He got fooled. He thought it was a ball. Imagine that!
Suddenly from the Bleachers could be heard the bang banging of the Bleachers drummer. Hes been doing this for years now and that gets the crowd started. They began chanting a kind of yip, yip, Indian-like sound. In the bottom of the fourth the Yanks score four runs. Nokes gets up for his second time at bat.
SOL: Is he a good hitter?
HERB: Thats the same guy I told you about before. He had that one great year where he hit a lot of homers. But since then he hasnt lived up to that.
Nokes worked the count to 3-0 and then fouled off several pitches.
SOL: Come on pitcher, let him hit it. Its going to be a long game if it keeps up like this here.
Nokes singles up the middle. Barfield flys out to end the inning. Yanks 4, Seattle 0.
In between innings they flash on the Great Subway Race and my father beats me on that. While this is going on several guys dressed with red blouses and black, loose fitting pants, come out with large nets in their hands. They start dragging the nets across the infield and get a pretty good hand when they are through.
Rookie Kevin Maas hits a gigantic homerun into the left centerfield stands. It looked like it was at least 420 feet.
SOL: Look at that, look at that. Hes a strong hitter. Wow, he hit that up high. What a hit!
HERB: Hes been hitting a lot of homers.
SOL: What a hit!!
In between innings the Diamond Vision screen started showing some baseball greats. There was Lou, and the Babe, and Willie, and the Mick, and Robinson, and Roberto, and while all this was going on, Creedance Clearwater were singing some baseball song, with the fans kind of half heartedly joining in.
At this point Mike Witt was pitching a one hitter.
HERB: If Witt gives up a hit well go after this inning. If not why dont we stay. Ive never seen a one hitter live.
SOL: No come on lets stay no matter what.
A Met score flashes on the scoreboard and a chant breaks out throughout the Stadium, Mets suck, Mets suck, Mets suck.
Ken Griffey Jr. gets up. At the same time I could hear on a radio nearby that Ken Griffey Sr. had just announced his retirement from baseball. Griffey Jr. gets the second hit off Mike Witt.
HERB: You wanna go?
SOL: Its up to you.
HERB: Well, if you dont want to go we wont go.
SOL (with a smile on his face): Its up to you.
HERB: Well well stay a little longer.
Steve Sax singles.
SOL: Theres two out. They can get a double out. I think the pitchers looking for a doubleplay.
HERB: Theres two out already
SOL: Yeah, I know, hes looking for a doubleplay.
HERB: Dad, you cant get a doubleplay. They already have two out.
Steve Balboni walks and so does Kevin Maas.
SOL: Is he supposed to be a good pitcher? He doesnt let anyone hit. He walks everyone.
Matt Nokes quickly gets an 0-2 count.
SOL: Hell strike out.
The count evens up to 2-2.
SOL: Why dontcha let him hit it. Oh, oh, he struck him out. They only got one run in this inning.
HERB: Yeah, but its 6-0. You wanna leave now? Its the top of the eighth.
SOL: Top of the eighth well leave.
HERB: Its the top of the eighth now dad.
HERB: Why dont we leave at the bottom of this inning.
Two quick outs.
SOL: Alright, two outs, lets go.
HERB: Now you wanna go?
SOL: You said you want to go.
HERB: OK. You sure you dont mind?
SOL: Well, you want to go!
HERB: The game is over. The Yanks are winning 6-0. Ill stay if you really want too.
SOL: No, its OK I havta go to the bathroom anyway.
THE MENS ROOM
SOL: I just read a good book.
Herb: Oh yeah, what was it?
SOL: The Yellow Stream by U. Pee Freely.
HERB: Thats a good book. I read it already.
THE YANKEE PARKING LOT
Bwaaa ..bwaaa ..bwaaa ..bwaaa.
HERB: Dad, you have to do something about your car alarm.
SOL: Thats the way it should be.
HERB: No, no. Not every time you open and close the door. It shouldnt go off all the time like that.
SOL: Yeah, its doing right. It should go off. Theres nothing wrong with it.
HERB: Dad, theyre not going to make a car alarm that goes off every time you use the door. I dont know how these things work but there must be a way you can turn it off before you open the door or something like that.
BWAAA ..BWAAA ..BWAAA ..BWAAA
SOL: Believe me, thats the way it should be and besides its not that loud.
HERB: Not that loud? It can wake up the dead. Right now Uncle Shlimudel and Aunt Rivka can probably hear it and theyve been gone for ten years now! Everybody in the garage is looking at us.
SOL: Well ..not everybody.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
SOL: We belong to a new Video club. We get three films for a $1.50.
HERB: Sounds good.
SOL: We see some good films. Did you ever see, Look Whos Talking? What a film.
HERB: No I havent.
SOL: What they did there I dont know how they did it, it starts out you see this light and it moves up and down and its the pinus or something and its going to the ovum and to explore there. You know its meeting it its like getting together. Its very good the way they did it. Everything getting together like that. You should see it.
HERB: I hate Bruce Willis.
SOL: No, you should see it. Hes good. You dont see him. Its just his voice.
HERB: Even thats too much.
SOL: Aw, you should see it.
I sat back in the car and closed my eyes. So many memories of my father came back to me. His coming home with 4 or 5 newspapers for us to read every night. Taking me to Marshall Field year after year to see the model airplane shows (which I hated). The day he got a long double in a soft ball game at the Pilgrim Peace Dye Works picnic in Bear Mountain, the trips we used to make to Willoughbys department store to rent out wonderful silent films which he would show Saturdays on his Keystone projector, the day he brought me home a Gilbert Erector set (which I hated) and he played with more than me.
HERB: Well Dad, did you enjoy the game?
SOL: Oh yeah. This year at least the Yankees won.
HERB: Now that youre a fancy Mets fan, I guess that doesnt matter anymore to you.
SOL: Oh yeah, I like the Yanks too. Well see them again next year.
HERB: Yes dad, that we will.
Postscript: We never did go to another game again. He was in his 80s then and the steps and crowds were too much for him. Seven months ago he passed away just three weeks short of his 91st birthday