October 19, 1977. I am 9. Dad was a track star but I was quick…not fast. I wasn’t playing any sport as of yet, but Dad’s interest in boxing, college basketball and baseball…to a lesser extent gave the foundation you are reading today.
Fall Classic. Autumn. Visual breaths. TV drama. Crazy crowd.
The minute I sit down to watch, this cat with an obvious swag steps to the plate and bangs one out of the park on the first pitch to put his team up 4-3. Then he does it again on the first pitch…and again the same to put his team up 7-4. Counting the last game, 4 pitches, four homers. His team wins. Bedlam on the field. Bronx Zoo. He’s giving cats forearm shivers just to get off the field. I am in love. My eyes still wide visualizing the stadium 2 hours south in Chester, PA.
The pretty boys in blue…especially the big bespectacled catcher, another cat with the same 44 fame name, a penguin hot corner and an Aqua Velva man with a straight first base batting stance be peace…
For the last 22 years, I have lived and died everything Bronx Bomber. I catch wreck from those of lesser loves. Team loyalties driven by years of despondent final game confusing and empty emotion. Crazy people. Passionate people who want their teams to win the last game, but they do not. There is talk of money and hatred for greatness. Legends somehow become losers.
Players dream of rockin’ my pinstriped mind. They all say so while being introduced within the fast flash clicks of clamoring press caps. It consumes and there is maturity in that exact moment and sometimes there is not. Soundbites and visions of past lore intrigues the present mind and intimidates the unborn.
In Little League, I was drafted by the Yankees. Won a championship. Later coached the Yankees by default in one league and my second son was drafted in blue as well. How can I leave despite the heartbreak of the loss unusual? Babe Ruth’s dream bleeds in me. Lou Gehrig’s emotional spoken mind uncovers the smell of green grass and brown dirt. Bucky Dent gave me hope. Thurman Munson left me stuck. Billy Martin made me give a…
Mickey Rivers gave me opportunistic cleats. Derek Jeter gave me the professional mind. Steinbrenner cold gave me a sense of urgency gold. Brian Doyle double rain taught me resolve. Craig Nettles gave me love of glove. Goose Gossage fire. Ron Guidry lightening. Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry happiness but it was Reggie Jackson who showed me confidence in the moments where peers meek speak weak.
He looks like me in a place where most do not and even strikeouts from Mad Hungarian arms are epic. Frank White rock, Dan Quisenberry motion, Amos Otis and Willie Wilson speed, Darrel Porter chipmunk cheek, George Brett talent, U.L. Washington shortstop toothpick, Jim Frey chill…all won nothing because of him playing with teammates who never liked him, but remain victorious just the same. Back then? What a game.
He wore the number of Hank Aaron and I had no idea…my mind opens. Charles Barkley, Walter Payton, Chris Webber…all of 4′s future familiarity.