Also Read: MEMORIES (Part 1)
NOV: THE 91st ARTICLE FOR BASEBALL GURU
So many memories after following the game for over 60 years now. Here are some more of them:
About twenty years ago I was giving some talks on baseball at the Riverdale senior center. After a few of them a member of the center would stay after I had finished and we would talk about baseball but most of the time it dealt with the Yankees. He was in his mid sixties then, had lost an eye, and claimed he enjoyed talking to me because most of his friends were not baseball fans. After a few weeks he came to me and said that he had been retired for awhile (he drove a truck) and he really had time on his hands and didnt know what to do about it. He also mentioned that when he went to the Yankee games he noticed there was no one there who cheered them on. What did I think of his going there and doing something to pick the Yankees up during a game.
I told him I thought it was good idea and also mentioned that if he played an instrument he could use that to lead the crowd. He said he didnt but why not use a gong or a pot and pan and maybe he could bang on that instead.
It sounded good to me and as the months went by my friend Fred Schuman began to do just that. Not only did he use a pan to clang during games he also began to make posters with all sorts of pithy sayings. Incredibly he became an icon over the years. The Yankees gave him carte blanch to the games (including Post Game and World Series). Models sponsored a news letter that he gave out for every game and he often appeared on the Yankees victory parade after winning several WS.
We kept in touch, I got to know his girl friend of 20 + years (Suzie) and whenever I would be at a game he would stop by, hug the hell out of me, and tell everyone that I started him off.
Freddy Sez Is no longer with us now, he passed away in his late 80s and for me it heralds the end of a unique moment in Yankees history. I dont think well see Freddys like again.
A few years ago I was at the Stadium with my son Lon, and grandson Kyle and his friend Tommy. The Yankees were playing the Orioles and pitching for them was Daniel Cabrera. By the fourth Inning I turned to Kyle and pointed out that Cabrera had not given up a hit yet. By the sixth inning we all began to take notice. When the seventh inning ended we began to vocally pull for Cabrera to go all the way and Yankee fans began to boo us. It didnt matter, you dont see a no-hitter every day of the week. The eighth ended and at this point most of the people around us were into it as well. With one out in the ninth Bernie Williams with a 3-1 count hit a ground ball past a lunging Derek Jeter and that ended Cabreras bid for a no hitter. It ended up as a one hitter and thats the closest Ive come in 60 plus years of going to ballgames and seeing a live no-hitter ..dont think Ill ever come that close again.
As a fan you get to hear about certain players from the media and perceptions grow about them which arent necessarily true.
Willie Mays, the say hey kid, .the hype has been there about him being a good guy and all around nice personality. Well my feelings about him are different and based on experiences Ive had with Mays over the years.
Willie Mays is nasty, surly, refuses to look up while signing autographs at card shows, will not allow anyone to photograph him (with or without children) and will leave card shows with people still waiting on line to get his autograph even though they payed a good deal of money and no money would be refunded. Ive seen him adamantly push kids out of the way and in one case they landed on the floor and he threatened to punch me in the nose if I continued to videotape him (from the distance). At card shows if ball players dont want to be photographed theyll have a placard in front saying no photos please. Mays didnt bother doing that. When asked to sign a bat with his autograph next to Duke Snider and Mickey Mantle, he purposely signed it at the very bottom of the bat, nowhere near the above names, and rolled the bat back to the fan smearing his name in the process.
For awhile Aaron, McCovey and Stargel were not pleasant to be with as well. Aaron has gotten better, McCovey is the same and Stargel hadnt changed by the time he passed away.
In the course of time Ive seen all the homerun records that have been set (tainted and legitimate as well), Ryans seven no-hitters. Maris hitting his 61St homerun (which is still an American league record) Larsens perfect WS game, Mays spectacular catch against Vic Wertz, Reggies 3 consecutive WS homeruns, Boston getting rid of the CURSE, New York winning 5 World Series in a row, Derek Jeter becoming immortal after I interviewed him as a rookie, Guidrys strike out game which started people clapping for a third strike .hopefully there will be more as time goes by.