Who’s On First?

Although last week was the official opening of Baseball Season here in the US,  Charley and I decided to travel to Florida in March to start the season a bit earlier. (Teams hold their spring training games in warmer climates while up North it’s still deciding what season it wants to be – freezing cold one day, record high temps the next.)

Charley is a big NY Yankees fan, so we found ourselves, one warm evening, in the stands of Steinbrenner Field watching a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Yanks. We also were able to get tickets to see the Boston Red Sox play the Baltimore Orioles and The Atlanta Braves against the Houston Astros. It was fun sitting in the sun eating hotdogs and huge salted pretzels, washing it all down with an ice cold beer while it was snowing back home in Rhode Island.

Although I like baseball, I don’t have a favorite team.  Instead, I have favorite players. This means I get to cheer for all of the teams. Players are always being traded or, as free agents, signing on with another team. There’s no loyalty in baseball, as far as I’m concerned. Very few players have remained with the same team throughout their careers. I’m constantly disappointed when the season rolls around and I’m watching a game on TV, waiting for a favorite player to come up to bat only to find he’s no longer with that team. By midseason, after all the trades, I’m forever grumbling that I don’t know half of the players on the field when they come up to bat and their names are flashed on the bottom of the television  screen. Once, I was watching a game and the caption on the screen read “Key Matchup”. I yelled out, “Who the hell is Key Matchup?!” And then added, “Who would name their kid ‘Key Matchup’, anyway?” Charley just laughed and waited for me to figure out it wasn’t an actual player, just a caption about two key players facing each other at bat. I’ll probably never live that one down. It reminds me of the famous Abbott and Costello comedy routine, “Who’s on First?”

So, I have favorites. Nick Markakis played right field for the Baltimore Orioles for eight years. At my first game at Camden Yards in Baltimore, I was taking a picture of Markakis just as he hit a foul ball up to where we were sitting. I screamed and yelled at everyone to “Look out!” ducking down and covering my head. When I got up, I looked around and asked Charley where the ball had gone. He handed it to me. Great story!

Last year, Markakis became a free agent. He’s now playing for the Atlanta Braves along with another of my favorites, Nick Swisher. Swishy played for the Athletics, the Indians, the White Sox and then the Yankees before landing in Georgia.  I got to see both of them play the outfield while in Florida in a game against the Houston Astros. (Last minute update:Swisher just got traded back to the Yankees.) They should have never let him go. Even if his legs aren’t as good as they used to be, he’s always laughing and brings a positive morale into a club house that sometimes is sorely needed. And rumors are that the Orioles’ powers-that-be are sorry they didn’t extend Markakis’s contract. Their right field is quite lacking without him there. I could have told them that! And if the Red Sox had called me for advice I would have told them not to waste their money on The Panda. (But who listens to me?)

I truly admire catchers like Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants.They have to call the shots; get regularly hit and beaten up by stray bats and balls; must calm down the pitcher at times; and remain in a crouched position through inning after inning. And then they’ve got to get up to bat like everyone else on the team. (Any woman out there knows how hard it is to get up from a crouched position.) I’m in awe.

One of my very favorites, Jorge Posada, was the Yankee’s Catcher for twenty years. Charley bought me a Posada Bobble Head and it’s the only bobblehead I’ll ever own. I won’t even take him out of the box.

My loyalty extends to entire families of players like the Molina brothers, Bengie, Jose and Yadier, all major league catchers. They’re the only three brothers in major league history to all win World Series Rings.

IMG_1837I really like baseball. Charley and I visited the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. I especially loved the section on the women’s professional baseball league during WWII, when young girls and women got their chance to play before large, cheering crowds. That day in Cooperstown, there were players from the Rockford Peaches Team signing pictures. I chatted with Ruth Richard #14 and Alice Deschaine #19  for a while. My favorite movie of all times,  A League of Their Own,  is about this team. I have the DVD. If you’ve never seen this movie, even if you don’t like baseball, it’s great. One of the best parts is the “There’s no crying’ in baseball “scene. I could watch it over and over.

I grew up in the Fifties in suburbia; Cape Cods and ranch houses on plots built for the families of the generation known as Baby Boomers.  Neighborhood games of hide-and-go-seek, tag, rollerskating, hopscotch, bike riding, and baseball were played in the streets until our dads came home from work and our mothers called us in for dinner. On Saturdays in the late spring and summer, the smell of fresh-cut grass, screen doors slamming and the clacking of lawn mowers could be heard mingled with the voices of commentators like Red Barber and Harry Caray calling out the play-by-plays, Kate Smith singing ‘God Bless America’, and then the sounds of baseball ringing out. Transistor radio in windows and back yards all brought the greats,  Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roger Maris,  and Jackie Robinson into our neighborhoods.

FullSizeRenderIn the Doris Kearns Goodwin lovely memoir, Wait Till Next Year, she writes about her own similar childhood in the suburbs of Brooklyn, NY. It’s also a story of her beloved Brooklyn Dodgers, “Them Bums”,  when Jackie Robinson became the first black player to integrate the American Baseball League.

Ken Burns’ latest documentary is on Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player to integrate the American League. It’s not only a history of what baseball was like when I was growing up, but also the  history of the beginnings of the Black Movement for equality here in the United States. After the years Robinson spent as first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, he became an outspoken advocate for Equal Rights. He retired from baseball in 1957  after the Dodgers finally won the 1956 Pennant and just before the team was moved to California. He died in 1972 and forty-four years later this country still has not resolved the racial issues that have people pleading, “Black Lives Matter”. We could really use him now.

Baseball has been a part of life here in the United States since the 1800’s. Although the invention of the game is attributed to Abner Doubleday, this has been hotly disputed over the years. What is not disputed is the fact the game is deeply entrenched in our lives. It has had an influence in so many areas other than sports, changing the fabric of our society for those who love it and even for those who don’t.

So, until November – Bat ‘Er Up!

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61 thoughts on “Who’s On First?

  1. It sounds fascinating. We don’t play baseball down here. The closest game we play would probably be cricket. However, I was fascinated by your depiction of how the game was woven through all your childhood memories. Lovely stuff, Clare!

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  2. Clare…You always find a way to make me laugh. Oh, my…a hmm hmm with a hat on! I saw this years ago but definitely forgot that line…lol! “Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the Show, Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks..I don’t care if I ever come back….”

    I was a baseball fan as a kid…My mother was a huge Yankee fan till the day she died (so hated the Dodgers, of course…well as long as they were in Brooklyn.) Of course, the Yankees Team kept almost all of their players. I remember not only watching, but even listening to the game on the car radio if my mom had the misfortune to have to go to the store. I would sit in the car and listen to the game while she ran into the store and explain what happened in detail as soon as she came back! The height of my memory was the year of the homer competition between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris to see who could beat Babe Ruth’s record. (1960 or 61 – Maris did it) Yogi Berra was the catcher, PeeWee Reese played shortstop, Moose Scowron (sp?) played first, I think, Bobby Richardson played third, Whitey Ford pitched and Casey Stengal was the manager. After I went off to high school and college, football and (college) basketball became more my sports of interest, though I’d watch with my mom, who knew every player and their stats, when she visited…She and Charlie could have compared notes.

    Now, as much nostalgia, as you created, I have to tell you Upstate New York was home for many years….and at least once every couple of summers I went with my mom, and later took my mom and my kids to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown where baseball was supposedly invented (I could be biased).

    I didn’t know Saratoga had a baseball museum, but are you sure it’s called the Hall of Fame? I even took Mom to Hall of Fame baseball games in Cooperstown….anyway the way you describe the museum it really sounds a lot like the one in Cooperstown. Maybe there is a competition or something on where baseball was created….anyway, if you and Charilie haven’t been there you’d probably like it.

    Jo

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    1. Jo, you’re right. It is Cooperstown I was talking about.I thought Cooperstown was in Saratoga, but I now I think Cooperstown was north of there??? We’ll see how many catch that.
      Yes, Charley and your mom would have had fun comparing notes.The Yankees keep their players because they have a lot of money to throw around- A criticism you hear all the time. I remember that Maris/Mantle competition,too. Did you read Wait Till Next Year? Spoiler alert: her mother dies. Very sad. I should have read it backwards.Take care…Clare

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  3. Hey Clare,

    you’ve given me an education on baseball. It’s not so popular here in Oz but not being a particularly avid sports fan I’d probably miss it anyway. I know. Aussies are supposed to take there sport seriously so I’m letting ‘the team’ down.

    On a more positive note I’m working my way through Louise Penny books and I’m hooked. So, one conversion out of two is pretty good.

    I hope you and Charlie enjoy your trip.

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    1. Robyn, i just reread the first one, Still Life, and it was really interesting(knowing the killer) watching how she set up clues. It gives me an insight into our Canadian neighbors to our north. Her newest book was disappointing, but I think she’s a bit distracted right now. Her husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimers and she is dealing with that. Another is supposed to come out at the end of August, so we’ll see.When you’re done with that series, you’ll have to try the Maisie Dobb’s series set in England between WWI and WWII and then the more modern Donna Leon’s Detective Guido Burnetti Series set in Venice.I also love Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma Series set in ancient Ireland. PS Do you love the character of Ruth Zardo (the old poet)?

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      1. Clare, I’m reading the series out of sequence because the library didn’t have the first one. I love the Canadian landscape and the author’s characterisations. Yes, Ruth is definitely a favourite – crusty old thing she is! I have paid particular attention to how Louise sets up her clues. I wonder if she begins that way or if she works back and forth as the story unfolds?
        Sad to think she is dealing with a major life challenge and that it’s affected her work. One never knows what is in store for us.
        I’ve noted the other authors you’ve recommended – thanks!

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      2. Robyn, I actually read the second one first, not knowing it was a series. It didn’t spoil it for me. I spent the afternoon outside gardening. The sun was out and it was lovely. Not as lovely as your little garden.Hope your weather is milder and you’re enjoying gardening, too. Clare

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  4. Mariners fan here. 🙂 (kind of)
    …We thought Ken Griffey Jr. was going to be a career Mariner. Then he took off for a few years to play with the Cincinnati Reds and a year with the Chicago White Sox before coming home to Seattle to play a little more and retire.
    …and that is all I know about baseball. (And I only know that because of my sons.)
    However, you make sitting in the sun, eating hot dogs and drinking beer sound like a good reason to take in a game or two …even if I don’t know what’s going on. 🙂

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    1. Ellen, You could identify with my complaint about favorite players leaving their teams. I’ve seen Ken Griffey, Jr. play against the Red Sox. Everyone around here is a Sox fan and it can be a little crazy sometimes when they make the playoffs! Especially now that they broke the Curse and have actually won the Pennant a couple of times. There’s nothing worse than a winning team and its fans!

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  5. As the father of two girls they really aren’t big baseball fans. They could not tell you any of the players names when we do go to games (about three a year) BUT they sure can tell you which ones have the nicest butts. Here is your baseball song https://youtu.be/04KQydlJ-qc link
    Also it’s great to see the “Who’s on first bit again. Brings back great memories thanks for sharing with us!

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    1. Everything interests me. (except for politics right now). I’m never sure what I’ll be writing about, but when I run out of interest, I’ll just stop blogging, I guess?? today I’m reading a mystery book bySally Andrew. She lives in Klein Karoo, South Africa. It’s called Recipes for Love and Murder. the main character writes an advice column for the local newspaper. Along with each piece of advice, she sends a recipe to make the person feel better. (I though you might like this, because your book is going to be even better!)

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  6. Hi Clare > Phew it’s been a while since dropping by. I hadnt spotted your new post on my RSS. I’ve only been to one baseball match and that was in South Korea. I’m a total football (soccer) fan and have been for 25 years. While we dont share the same sport I bet we share the same excitement at the end of an amazing match. I support Liverpool, a truly magical side that makes dreams come true. Hope you are well Clare and have a fantastic day 🙂

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    1. Andy, Many of the bloggers I follow are cricket and football fans. My post was almost in a foreign language for them. But baseball is tied into American lives in many ways. I’m familiar with the Liverpool team and of course, Manchester. Lots of rivalries going on in that sport. Since I have no favorite team, all games are fun to me and I’m not really invested in the winning, just the playing.
      I did get your book for my birthday and can’t wait to read it. The weather is improving and soon we’ll be able to put the furniture into the outside gazebo. It’s a perfect place to read on a quiet afternoon. Hope all is well in your part of the world. Clare

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      1. Aha > the winning magnifies the whole experience tenfold. Glad you got the book and I hope you had a good birthday. BTW I was out walking with my missus the other night and pulled out my phone with that star gazing app. My wife was delighted and we are ready to announce to the world that we discovered Jupiter! Ha!

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      2. I’m finishing up on the extra photos for the alpaca book (taken from the January chapter of A Berkshire Tale). I’ll sit with the publisher next week so they can put together a 1st galley for me. I took the Verse poem (Carnivore Conundrum) about the baby pitcher plant who wouldn’t eat meat and made it into a slide show with photos from the Botanical Gardens. Buttttttt I haven’t touched the mystery in two weeks. I think it needs a lot more character development and plot line before it’s ready for publishing. Oh, and I successfully filled out a bank application for a re-mortgage. (Rates are lower right now). That’s all my writing projects for now! How about you?

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      3. Well you can only apply yourself to one bug project at a time I guess. I have no idea about mortgages and remortgages. Sounds confusing to me. Sit down with the publisher > phew that’s a new one on me. I cant imagine that. For me > well I just keep my head down and soldier on. I’ll tell ya when I’m on the way 🙂

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      4. I’ve re-financed many times. I tend to spend cash or give it away, so at a very early age I began to invest in property. Property tends to go up in value, so, it’s been a wise decision for me now that I’m retired. I probably would have gone through my cash and had nothing to show for it in my old age. But this remortgage was for a better interest rate which makes monthly payments lower.When you’re ready to buy a house, I’ll be here for advice. I actually am self publishing my books but have a company that does some of the things publishers do. This way I can control the rights to my work and still have the benefits of a publishing company for POD and all of the other details involved in getting ab book to print. How did your book get into print? I think you may have used Smash Words or Amazon? It’s the same type of thing, really.

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      5. I used Amzon Createspace. What an awesome service it is. The customer service is top notch whereas I wasted 6 months of my time getting nowhere with LuLu. Createspace is completely free as well 🙂

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      6. Actually I did finally get the first 4 chapters of travelogue 2 printed off. I’ll shelve it and read it when I get back. No doubt I’ll carve a big chunk out of it. Just Turn Left lost two whole chapters before I published it.

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      7. Did you at least ave those chapters? They may fit into a later work. It’ good to walk away from a piece of writing and then get back to it. Hopefully it works well with your travelogue 2 and my mystery. When do you leave?

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      8. Not sure yet Clare. There is no real good time here in China. It’s either scorching hot or freezing cold with a few mild weeks in between. There’s no water where I’m going. I’ll keep you posted mate 🙂

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