Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Dad, Reggie and Me
2007-06-19 05:35
by Alex Belth

In his first installment of our series about the box set of the 1977 World Series, Jay Jaffe mentioned how much his father admired Reggie Jackson:

Reggie made a big impression on my father, himself a second-generation Dodger fan who had no truck with the pinstripes. Via him, Reggie gained larger-than-life status in my eyes. When we played catch, occasionally Dad would toss me one that would sting my hand or glance off my glove. If I complained, he'd shout, "Don't hit 'em so hard, Reggie!" In other words, don't bellyache, and don't expect your opponent to cut you any slack.
Longtime readers of Bronx Banter know that not only was Reggie my favorite player as a kid but he was one of the few Yankees my Dad also enjoyed too. Shortly before my father died earlier this year, I wrote a memoir piece about him and Reggie Jackson. I was thinking a lot about the old man two days ago on Father's Day, and thought now would be a good time to share this story with you.

"Dad, Reggie, and Me" was originally published in Bombers Broadside 2007: An Annual Guide to New York Yankees Baseball (March, Maple Street Press). (c) 2007 Maple Street Press LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Dad, Reggie and Me

There is nothing like the first time. Nothing is as intense, as memorable as your first love, your first break-up or, in this case, your first hero. Mine was Reggie Jackson, who signed as a free agent with the Yankees 30 years ago. I was six years old during Jackson's first year in pinstripes, a time when I was as interested in action heroes and comic books as I was in baseball. Reggie was more a superhero—a "superduperstar" as Time magazine once dubbed him—than a ball player. Bruce Jenner may have been on a box of Wheaties but Reggie had his own candy bar. (Catfish Hunter once said "I unwrapped it and it told me how good it was.") Reggie arrived in New York at a time when I desperately needed a fantasy hero; his five volatile years in pinstripes coincided with the disintegration of my parents' marriage.

The truth is the Yankees never wanted Jackson in the first place. In 1976, they won the pennant with an effective left-handed DH in Oscar Gamble. But after they were swept in the World Series by the Reds, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was bent on adding a big name. The first free agent re-entry draft was held that fall and the Yankees drafted the negotiating rights for nine players. Reggie was their sixth choice. Steinbrenner and his general manager, Gabe Paul, coveted second baseman Bobby Grich; manager Billy Martin pined for outfielder Joe Rudi. Then, over the course of a few days in mid-November, seven of the nine players the Yankees were interested in signed elsewhere, and suddenly Steinbrenner had no choice but to court Reggie. Paul was against it, but Steinbrenner courted Reggie anyway, wining and dining the superstar around New York. In the end, Jackson couldn't resist the Yankees anymore than Steinbrenner could keep himself from wooing the slugger. He turned down bigger offers from the Expos and the Padres and signed. "I didn't come to New York to be a star," he said. "I brought my star with me."

I remember my father in those years sitting in his leather-bound chair, reading The New York Times, a glass of vodka constantly by his side. In 1976, we moved from Manhattan to Westchester and my father had a heart attack at the age of 39. He was unemployed for a year, horribly depressed. My mother got a job and chopped wood to keep our gratuitously spacious house warm. We moved to a nearby town, Yorktown Heights, in 1977 before my father began to work again.

My dad could be warm and loving. His imitation of the gibberish-talking Swedish chef on The Muppet Show never failed to make my twin sister, younger brother, and me laugh hard from the gut. But he would become furious with us when we didn't wash our hands for dinner or brush our teeth before bed. My mother's friend Chrissy, who often substituted for my father on camping trips, whispered to us that he was a bad guy. I remember my parents yelling in their bedroom, my mother smashing plates in the kitchen. (She once painted the floor of my bedroom lime green just to infuriate him.) During the holidays, my father's eyes would be glassy, and my relatives would glare at him.

Nobody had his back, which made me want to protect him. Like Reggie, my father was an egotist who believed he was somehow being targeted, victimized (Pop led the league in righteous indignation). After Jackson was famously pulled off the field by Martin in a nationally televised game, he told two reporters, "I'm just a black man to them who doesn't know how to be subservient. I'm a black buck with an IQ of 160, and making $700,000 a year. They've never had anyone like me on their team before." Reggie was the rebel outsider and so was my father. It was Reggie vs. the World, and Dad vs. the World.

Reggie became a fantasy stand-in for my father. They didn't look alike, but they both wore glasses and had black mustaches and thick torsos. My father's eyebrows were often raised in anger, and when he yelled, his face turned red and he began to tremble, as if he was going to suddenly pop. When Reggie came to bat, I remember him securing the shiny dark Yankee helmet to his head with his right hand, and then pushing his glasses to the bridge of his nose. Unsmiling, he looked intimidating. Reggie measured his bat out across the plate several times and then stood erect looking out at the pitcher. He'd spit between the space in his front teeth and finally crouch slightly into his stance. Reggie and my old man: they were the two male faces that I was most familiar with.

I was in awe of my father, in the old sense of that word. He had the power to control my feelings. He could make me laugh or cry or convince me that I was lying when I wasn't. I studied his mannerisms, his gestures, just as I became an expert mimic of Reggie's practiced, self-conscious movements on the field—the way he wore his uniform, the way he threw the ball, and, most importantly, the way he admired his long home runs.

* * * *

Baseball was the only sport that my dad cared about, though he only followed it casually in The Times. An old Brooklyn Dodger fan, he loathed the Yankees as only someone from his generation could. He thought Billy Martin was a thug and that Steinbrenner was a bully and a boor. But he respected Jackson. Reggie came through in the big spots, and even when he failed, Reggie still evoked wonder. But most of all, Reggie was a true showmen, and my dad loved showmen—from George M. Cohan to Gene Kelly (when he took us to see Superman, he marveled, "It looks like he's really flying.") After all, how can anyone deny three home runs on three swings in the sixth game of the World Series?

He admired Reggie's chutzpah. By the time he came to New York, Reggie was an all-or-nothing player. When he hit a single, I was disappointed; it never filled me up enough. "Reggie would try the impossible," wrote historian Bill James. "He didn't mind failing when striving for the spectacular, a trait that all great performers share."

And like all great performers, Reggie wanted to be needed, loved, worshipped. When he signed with the Yankees, Reggie told reporters, "For me to get applause from the crowd or slaps on the back or have George Steinbrenner say to me that he felt he wanted me to play here and always wanted me here, that's something I never had. I never felt wanted like that."

"Reggie doesn't want just to be recognized," wrote Sparky Lyle in The Bronx Zoo. "He wants to be idolized."

I was convinced that Reggie needed me, just like I had to believe that my father needed me. Just like I needed him to come through for me and just like Reggie needed Steinbrenner to like him, and like Martin needed to be the manager of the New York Yankees.

* * * *

Books, not sports, were the proving ground for masculinity in my family. When my paternal grandfather took me to Scribner's elegant shop on Fifth Avenue to buy a book for me, it was a rite of passage. My grandfather was a circumspect, reserved man who didn't relate intuitively to small children. My father was convinced that he was born wearing a suit; there was something about him that didn't wrinkle.

I was allowed to choose whatever book I wanted. My grandfather led me to the children's section and recommended handsome editions of Treasure Island and Huck Finn. I humored him and then hurried to the sports section and found The Reggie Jackson Scrapbook, a glossy book with a cover photograph of Jackson in his twisted pretzel swing. I didn't need to look any further. My grandfather shrugged and seemed bemused and then disappointed, but he bought the book for me anyway. I felt guilty, ashamed that I had let him down, but secretly, I was thrilled.

The Reggie Jackson Scrapbook chronicled Jackson's career from childhood through Arizona State to Oakland, but mostly it covered his first year in pinstripes. Photos were accompanied by bold-faced captions from Reggie himself: "Home run hitters strike out a lot," and "I've got a heck of an arm most of the time."

Banner headlines from the tabloids and action shots from the playoffs filled the pages—Hal McRae upending Willie Randolph, George Brett fighting with Graig Nettles. One page had a large photo of Reggie superimposed over a series of headlines. An arrow pointed to Jackson's mouth, and under the picture a caption read, "Sometimes I wish I could keep this thing closed." On another page was a picture of Reggie lying on the ground near home plate after being hit by a pitch. The caption underneath said, "This is the way I felt almost all year—down. But luckily finding a way to get up and keep going." Finally, each of his three dramatic home runs in the final game of the '77 World Series had their own page. The last one showed Jackson watching his longest homer, the one he hit off Charlie Hough. The catcher, Steve Yeager and the home plate umpire had their heads cocked in the air too, like baby birds waiting to be fed by their mother.

Since we read only The New York Times in my house, it was thrilling to see the cartoonish pictures and brash headlines from the Daily News and the New York Post: "Billy + Jax Clash in Dugout," "Steinbrenner Lectures Club."

I read and re-read the book. The last two pages featured a shot of Billy Martin drinking champagne in his office after the Series ended. The headline read: "Reggie Lauds Billy: 'There's Nobody I'd Rather Play For.'" On the next page was a picture of Reggie at his locker with his arm around his dad, a short, chubby man with a pencil-thin mustache. "Nice guy—that dad of mine!"

* * * *

I was seven when I went to my first Yankee game in 1978, but Reggie was not playing that day and my friend Liz and I were more interested in eating hot dogs, ice cream, and Cracker Jack than in the game itself. It wasn't until '79 that I began following the game daily, reading box scores and recaps. Reggie was injured for a good portion of the summer and his fighting with Steinbrenner had begun.

My father's drinking worsened. My mother kept extra candles in the house that we used when the heating bill went unpaid. Dad seldom played catch with me. It was not fun for him, having to get up from his drink and the Times. He was impatient and irritable, and he threw the ball hard as if he were having a catch with an adult. I recall shedding my glove one day and walking back into the house in tears, wondering what I had done wrong.

I had just turned eight that summer when I visited my mother's family just outside of Brussels for a few weeks. It was the first time I made the trip by myself and I was palpably homesick. My dad sent me the box score from the All-Star Game and wrote that I had better be speaking French or else. Sitting in the attic room of my grandparents' home, the smell of tarragon and potatoes drifting up from the kitchen, and the sounds of a British serial on the BBC radio coming from an old tuner in the corner of the room, I cried as I wrote my father a letter. I smudged the tears on the paper, hoping he would notice.

My father cried the day after Thurman Munson died in a plane crash. He sat at his desk with a glass of vodka and watched the ceremony at Yankee Stadium, the smoke of a Pall Mall filling the dim room. He began to sob uncontrollably. I didn't understand why; he didn't even like the Yankees. But dad explained to me that sometimes it is sad when a person dies, even if they did play for the Yankees.

* * * *

My dad was given a copy of Sparky Lyle's vulgar inside-account of the 1978 season, The Bronx Zoo, which I read eagerly, scanning the pages for the word "Reggie." Along the way, I discovered that a big league locker room was a pungent, vulgar place. I learned many curse words, and how much many of the Yankees despised Reggie. Lyle was loyal to Martin and disliked Reggie's theatrics. However, he admired Jackson's ability to produce in key moments, like when he hit a long home run in the playoff game against the Red Sox (which proved to be the deciding run), or when he hit a dinger off the Dodgers' Bob Welch in the final game of the World Series. "Despite the fact that Reggie at times can be hard to take," Lyle wrote, "there's no question that in the big games, he can get way up and hit the hell out of the ball."

The next year, under new manager Dick Howser, was Reggie's finest as a Yankee. He hit 41 homers in 1980, which led the league, and batted .300 for the first, and only, time in his career. It was also the final year of my parents' marriage. That summer, I cajoled and begged anyone I could to take me to see The Empire Strikes Back, the first movie I ever saw more than twice in the theater. Reggie and George and the Dark Side of the Force were all mixed up in my imagination. It was wrenching when Vader told Luke that he was his father, and when the movie ended with a frozen Han Solo being shipped off to the faceless bounty hunter, Jabba the Hut. The movie seemed to be soaked in defeat. My dad was both Han Solo and, as it turned out, Darth Vader. He was both Reggie and George—a bully, the very thing he hated so much in Steinbrenner.

The Yankees won 103 games in the regular season but were swept by the Royals in the playoffs. Howser was sacked, and on New Year's Eve, my mother decided that she wanted out. She convinced my father to see a therapist with her, which they did for several months. Dad refused to admit that he had a drinking problem and my mother finally had the courage to tell him to leave. By the spring of '81, we had moved to another Westchester town while dad returned to Manhattan. I desperately wanted to live with the outcast; he was flattered but said that it wouldn't be practical. Before the summer was over, the baseball players went on strike. Suddenly, everything was so grown up.

It was a depressing year for Reggie as well. Steinbrenner had acquired Dave Winfield the previous winter, and refused to discuss a new deal with Jackson (whose contract was expiring) until after the season. He humiliated Reggie by having his slugger undergo a physical examination while in the midst of a terrible slump. The Yankees made the playoffs again that October and Reggie launched a monumental home run against the Brewers, but he missed the first two games of the World Series due to injury, and was benched in the third game (the order came from Steinbrenner). Otherwise, he played well as the Yankees crumbled in Los Angeles. They finally lost, but it was more than that. I was inconsolable.

As a consolation, my mom bought me a big, gray Venezuelan rabbit. I named him Reggie. He lived in a cage in my bedroom. Though he was house trained, he had an insatiable appetite, eating the corners of my Sports Illustrated magazines and the noses and feet of my sister's Barbie dolls. He chewed his way through most of our Christmas lights, which killed him a few days later.

* * * *

George Steinbrenner has often said that the biggest mistake he ever made was not re-signing Jackson in 1982. Reggie went to the Angels. I was three-quarters of the way through the fifth grade when he returned to New York for the first time. We still had a 13" Sony Trinitron, which rested on the dresser of my mom's bedroom. I sat on the edge of her bed and watched as Reggie hit a long home run off Ron Guidry in the seventh inning. It bounced off the façade of the upper deck in right field and I went wild, running around the house screaming. The landlady downstairs pounded on the ceiling but I didn't care.

The entire Stadium chanted "Steinbrenner sucks." I was both happy and vengeful. All the emotions of a difficult first year of divorce spilled out of me when he hit that home run. For the Yankee players, it was a release of sorts too. Guidry placed his glove in front of his face to cover a smile; the players in the dugout loved the chanting. Reggie had escaped the Zoo but reminded everyone that he would be missed. My father wasn't around, but he would have appreciated the moment. I would see him that weekend in Manhattan, and I was sure to tell him about it.

When he was still living with us, my dad would occasionally come into the den while I was watching the game. Preoccupied with something on his desk (maybe he was looking for a book), he would pause for a moment if he saw that Jackson was batting. These fleeting moments were precious. My father, standing there, a cigarette in his hand, his eyes alight. Dad, Reggie, Me.

Dad would usually make a call: "whiff" or "home run." He was wrong more often than not. When he called a home run and Reggie struck out, I would be furious, not just disappointed. I thought that my father was purposely denying me. But there were a few times that he called a home run and was right (including once at a game). Although it was Reggie who hit the home runs, I was filled with pride when my dad called them. A surge of power shot through my body. At these moments he was no longer my dad, who drank too much, or belittled me. Instead, he was the man who really mattered in my life. Not exactly my hero like Reggie, but my dad, who, on those rare occasions, righted my world in a way no one else, not even Reggie, could ever do.

Comments (85)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-06-19 06:02:00
1.   monkeypants
Holy italicized web page, Batman!
2007-06-19 06:11:14
2.   Alex Belth
problem fixed, thanks.
2007-06-19 06:32:55
3.   Yankee Fan In Boston
beautiful, alex.

reading things like this remind me that i am a terrible writer, and that i desperately wish that wasn't the case.

thanks for sharing all of this. i feel like i just watched this all happen. truly great.

2007-06-19 07:09:37
4.   Simone
Wonderful read, Alex.
2007-06-19 07:30:32
5.   Jeb
Let's hope that "the Bronx is burning" will be worthy of those games....
2007-06-19 07:35:58
6.   Patrick
Nice work, Alex.
2007-06-19 07:37:39
7.   Sliced Bread
"All the emotions of a difficult first year of divorce spilled out of me when he hit that home run."

Way to go, Reggie! Way to go, Alex! Touch 'em all!

I once had an idea to write a fictional story about a kid who was mixed up from drugs, and was desperately rooting for Strawberry when he blasted his "Just Say No" home run at Fenway. The home run was to be the kid's release from his own drug problems, his turning point. I abandoned the idea because (I'm lazy) it seemed corny, and contrived, but I still liked the idea how we, as fans, for better or worse tie our fortunes to great players, and moments.

Yours is a beautiful story, Alex, and so much more truthful and touching because it's from your heart, and your memory.

Thank you.

Man, the stuff we don't get from the box scores...

2007-06-19 07:43:31
8.   Matt B
2007-06-19 07:58:52
9.   KJC
Excellent article as always, Alex! It's Your writing that keeps this Sox fan coming to this site. There are a lot of parallels to our lives (Bronx Zoo-era Yankee fan, parents divorce in '81, Star wars, golden age rap, etc.) and I can really relate. It also reminds me to keep in mind that my kids may see me as bigger than life -- which is a pretty scary responsibility to have.
2007-06-19 08:03:17
10.   Alex Belth
Thanks for the kind words everyone. I spent a lot of time on this piece and am proud of the work that I put into it. I'm glad that it reads well. It's difficult to turn something that is emotionally charged for you into something that is interesting for others to read. But it is something that I've wanted to write for a long time, and it's a starting point for something longer about my dad and baseball and even Reggie that I'm sure I'll tackle down the line.
2007-06-19 08:06:44
11.   Matt B
Smells like a screenplay to me, Alex.
2007-06-19 08:11:51
12.   Peter
That was excellent, Alex.
2007-06-19 08:12:37
13.   Yankee Fan In Boston
11 seriously. i'd watch the hell out of that movie.
2007-06-19 08:13:47
14.   Chyll Will
10 You've got a lot of soul, Alex. Thanks for opening the window for us. Whenever you talk about yourself, I also remember some things about myself in my first life. Funny how good writers do that, huh >;)

7 Write that story, Sliced!!!

2007-06-19 08:40:17
15.   weeping for brunnhilde
So poignant, so moving, Alex. Thank you.

I named my first cat Reggie, but I was self-conscious about it, because I guess on some level it seemed goofy to me, so whenever anyone would say, "Oh, like Reggie Jackson?" I'd respond that he wasn't actually named after Reggie Jackson, but that I just liked the name Reggie which I did indeed get from the slugger. Inspired by Reggie, but not named after Reggie, no, because that's goofy to name a cat after a baseball player, right?

Of course, the fact that I had an autographed picture of Reggie and a tee-shirt with Reggie's image on it and otherwise idolized the guy probably made my story less than convincing to everyone, grown-ups and peers alike.

Funny thing is, my only vivid memory of Reggie that survives to this day is when I saw him hit a homerun in the Stadium as an Angel in '82. I don't much remember the guy as a baseball player so much as as a legend.

I also remember a giant billboard with Reggie's picture on it on the Henry Hudson Parkway, around 125th St., selling Panasonic--Reggie Vision.

2007-06-19 08:41:22
16.   weeping for brunnhilde
7 Hey, Sliced, whose call was that? "Touch 'em all, Dave Winfield!"

Messer? John Gordon? I liked that call.

2007-06-19 08:48:44
17.   standuptriple
If that wasn't a 3HR piece I don't know what is. Well done, AB.
My first dog was named Reggie. He was awesome.
2007-06-19 08:50:58
18.   C2Coke
Alex, you are one of the few writers who can truly do magic tricks with his words. Thanks.
2007-06-19 08:55:43
19.   Alex Belth
Dude, I totally remember that Panasonic "Reggie Vision" billboard on the West Side highway. There was also one right when you got out of the Lincoln Tunnel on the Jersey side. Good memories for sure.
2007-06-19 08:59:30
20.   Yankee Fan In Boston
i also had a dog named reggie after mr. jackson. was a female...

i refused to name it anything else. my family would call her regina. i'm certain that they did so to get under my skin.

it did.

2007-06-19 09:45:13
21.   hodengott
Alex, great great great story, making me to register on this site. I am proud you are a Yankee Fan.
2007-06-19 09:55:29
22.   Chyll Will
21 Welcome to the family, Hod (don't expect much of an allowance) >;)
2007-06-19 10:09:54
23.   hodengott
Thank you. BTW I 'm not too good with these smiley things. Actually i've got no idea what they mean. However I can state that I'm not an interpunctually handicapped person.
2007-06-19 10:13:38
24.   ny2ca2dc
Brilliant, beautiful piece Alex.
2007-06-19 10:41:22
25.   Chyll Will
23 Look at it sideways: >;) is my devilish wink (usually good-humored sarcasm, satire, zany-madcap or if you're a Python fan, "nudge-nudge, wink-wink"). Then there's Weeping for Brunnhilde, whose favorite expression is :) , while the Banterfolk's general favorite seems to be ;-) but I must warn you, there are a few :( and >:' and even an ocassional >8O outbreak, but we comport ourselves pretty well around here. Right, gang? <:p
2007-06-19 10:50:31
26.   Count Zero
Very, very moving.

My wife doesn't get sports -- doesn't understand why the Yankees mean so much to me. If she read this piece, she might start to figure it out...

2007-06-19 11:00:08
27.   hodengott
25 Cheers for your lengthy and easily unterstandable explanation. Really helped me a lot #!boom$%?!%&!.
Good guessing with Python, I'm a huge fan. My all-time favourite is the ministry for silly walks sketch. Or like you would say: :)
2007-06-19 11:08:07
28.   hodengott
26 No, seriously, don't show this piece to your wife. The only thing she would say is:

"See, if his dad stayed away from the booze, they still would be a happy family."

Women are different.

2007-06-19 11:13:30
29.   Chyll Will
28 (ooohh... um, I should also warn you, spanking is legal around here... good luck!) >;)
2007-06-19 11:17:08
30.   MainLineYankee
This writing is so compelling! This is a great story about the relationship you had with your father.
2007-06-19 11:19:05
31.   weeping for brunnhilde
25 Right, Will!


2007-06-19 11:20:00
32.   Yankee Fan In Boston
29 what, chyll? to me, hodengott meant "different" as in "totally awesome and stuff".

welcome, hodengott.

(i've got your back.)

2007-06-19 11:26:40
33.   hodengott
28 Sorry, I know, usually you shouldn't make fun of this stuff. But maybe my third glass of an excellent spanish red wine to celebrate this fine sunny day, might be an excuse. And before you think it's way too early to drink, it's 8.25 p.m over here in good old Germany.
2007-06-19 11:28:27
34.   hodengott
32 Thank you. And I hope you still got my back, after learning of my heritage.
2007-06-19 11:32:09
35.   Emma Span
Really great piece, Alex... thanks for posting it.
2007-06-19 11:35:41
36.   Chyll Will
32 Oh, I'm just sayin'; I don't have a problem with it, but 3rd Gen and AbbyNormal and especially Simone... well, dey's "different" and dey may or may not spankdatazz, family style... at least he's got something to look forward to, right Hod? And some guys have the nerve to love their wives around here... you can tell them, "you're wife has three legs" and they'll say, "So? I'm a leg man, whaat!!" >;)

(everyone, please note that >;) means exactly what I said it means 25) >;)

2007-06-19 11:42:20
37.   Chyll Will
34 Do they have crickets there? We get lots of them here from time to time
(cricket, cricket...)
2007-06-19 11:43:20
38.   Yankee Fan In Boston
33 34 fear not. it is only 2:37 here and the very mention of wine has my mouth watering.

also, i am a mutt. i've got a little bit of everybody in my veins. heritage? what's that? this will work out swimmingly.

36 if loving your wife is wrong, i am in a lot of trouble. (1st anniversary in a couple of weeks.)

2007-06-19 11:49:48
39.   hodengott
37 Sorry, only soccer. And I guess Soccer, Soccer, Soccer, ... doesn't work. €µ;) ( now figure that one out)
2007-06-19 11:51:32
40.   Chyll Will
38 I was thinking along the same lines as Luther Ingram. Early Congrats!
2007-06-19 11:51:38
41.   hodengott
38 Good-bye third glass, hello fourth glass. Boy, this wine is of the most mouth-watering class, I have had for at least a week.
2007-06-19 11:55:30
42.   Chyll Will
39 You passed the third test... Cool, you're balancing the ball on your head?
2007-06-19 11:59:14
43.   JL25and3
38 36 if loving your wife is wrong, i am in a lot of trouble.

So, tell us more about you and Chyll's wife...

2007-06-19 11:59:15
44.   Alex Belth
Actually, the ultimate test of whether the story has any reach is if it holds any interest to your wife, or any non-baseball fan for that matter. I remember when I was working for Ken Burns on his Baseball documentary and he said his ideal viewer is a Eastern European woman who couldn't care less about baseball. If he could get her interested, he reasoned, then the rest would work out, since he knew the fanatics would already be watching (little did he figure that it would be the die hards that would pick his series, sometimes rightfully so, apart with such glee).
2007-06-19 12:01:20
45.   weeping for brunnhilde
32 Ha haha ha!
2007-06-19 12:02:28
46.   weeping for brunnhilde
33 Mmmmm, Spanish red! Summer days. Baseball.

Life is sweet sometimes, isn't it?

Welcome, hodengott!

2007-06-19 12:04:24
47.   hodengott
42cheers. But don't expect me to ask, what the first two tests were, won't happen. And I'm not one of these ball on his head balancing guys. I used to be a fair defender. No technique, but nobody could pass me with the ball, except for the cheaters, they were faster.
2007-06-19 12:05:54
48.   weeping for brunnhilde
44 I have to say, Alex, as much as I love baseball, what you've written isn't about baseball, but about life as contextualized by baseball.

It reads pretty universal to me.

2007-06-19 12:08:07
49.   weeping for brunnhilde
Oh, and not to go overboard with praise, but really, your sense of narrative is so strong that I can't see even the most casual reader not being compelled by it.
2007-06-19 12:08:29
50.   Chyll Will
43 Aw, but I thought you and I were so happy! >;)
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-06-19 12:11:43
51.   hodengott
If you wonder about my sudden appearance, I already explained that (great story by alex), if you wonder about my sudden disappearance, I have to catch some sleep, the rockies game is scheduled to start at over here. Ja, it's hard to be a baseball fan in europe.
2007-06-19 12:12:34
52.   AbbyNormal821
HUH? WHA??? I see my name mentioned in the same sentence as "spankdatazz"
:::GULP!::: What'd I miss here?

DAMMIT all to Hades, I really need to start getting into these posts earlier! Freakin' job getting in the way though!

2007-06-19 12:17:13
53.   Bama Yankee
44 That explains why Ken Burns kept using the phrase: "Ich bin ein Baseballer" during that documentary... ;-)

On a serious note, very nice article as usual Alex. Thanks for sharing something so personal. Reading things like that coupled with my own relationship with an alcoholic father makes me stive to be a better father to my son. Alex, you have a gift.

2007-06-19 12:19:17
54.   Bama Yankee
Oh, I almost forgot: Welcome hodengott. But I do have one question for you:
"Wer ist Karim Garcia?"
2007-06-19 12:23:45
55.   dlewanda
Excellent piece - I didn't come into Yankee-fandom until the mid eighties, at the height of Donnie Baseball mania (I didn't come into existence at all until 1980), and my dad is a Mets fan, so I never got into the Bronx Zoo days. I have read a great deal on the great Yankees teams from the Babe through Mantle eras, but I haven't gotten indoctrinated in the details of the late-70's Yankees until now. I guess it's like the Korean and Vietnam War in high school history - they just run out of time. I will have to get my hands on some of the material everyone has been citing for inspiration.

As an aside, and not to go too far off-topic, but I was wondering what people thought the next roster move(s) this week will look like. The Yanks are seemingly going to call up Igawa in time to start Friday. Who goes down? I don't think they can afford to go with 13 pitchers with at least 3 more days of NL ball in San Fran, so it has to be a pitcher. I'd love to see them finally cut it down to 11 pitchers and bring another bat up just to give some versatility, especially if Damon can't play the field. Any thoughts?

2007-06-19 12:30:46
56.   Chyll Will
52 Sorry about that Abby, sometimes I take liberties in setting up an extended joke. I'll recap:

Alex has posted a beautiful segment about his Dad, to which many have gathered in awe and proclaimed him Awesome. So Awesome are his powers that he drew in another poster, all the way from Germany, who happened to be indulging in some fine port as he suggested hiding the post from the differentfolk such as yourself and Simone and 3rd Gen, who I suggested might , pardon the expressionand resulting confusion, "spankdatazz." YFiB leaped to his defense and suggested in all chivalry and quixotic glory that it was likely meant in endearment, to which we discussed the finer points of Spanish Red, facial icons and soccer. In the midst of all this, JL inferred he was cheating on me and wants a divorce as weeping was not in fact weeping, but smiling all over the place as usual and you stormewd in yelling and screaming about a missed opportunity or something...

Whew! I gotta stop watching "One Life To Live" on the cafe monitor... >;)

2007-06-19 12:41:20
57.   Javi Javi
56 Apart from Alex's moving piece, your recap post is the best thing I've read all day.
2007-06-19 12:42:41
58.   Yankee Fan In Boston
43 before i do, i need to know if chyll is actually married...
2007-06-19 12:44:34
59.   Chyll Will
58 Apparently, your guess is as good as mine, so have at it >;)
2007-06-19 12:46:32
60.   Yankee Fan In Boston
59 a gentleman doesn't make a cuckold of someone and tell.

and i, my friends, am obviously a gentleman.

2007-06-19 12:47:40
61.   weeping for brunnhilde
Ok, so speaking of Mike (ok, we weren't speaking of Mike, but my thoughts turned to him): I thought I saw someone mention about the thermidore or whatever it's called actually working in Denver.

Is this so?--because suddenly I imagined Mike throwing flat breaking balls for three innings and leaving with a puss on his face muttering curses about Denver's thin air.

He needs another strong outing tonight, this is no time for backsliding.

What do we expect out of him tonight, Team?

2007-06-19 12:48:12
62.   weeping for brunnhilde
60 "That's no lady, that's my wife!"
2007-06-19 12:49:28
63.   AbbyNormal821
OK! Noooow I get it! No yelling...that was a gasp of confusion.
Thanks for the recap, Chyll!!! Not only did it help explain stuff, it made me laugh!

I should start drinking Spanish port in the afternoon!

2007-06-19 12:49:51
64.   Yankee Fan In Boston
62 my respect for you grows with each passing day. dino... a li'l ole wine drinker... it is all cyclical...
2007-06-19 12:51:43
65.   Yankee Fan In Boston
61 mike myers says that the humidor and the atmosphere do indeed make pitches flatter.

we just need to hope that less of our team's pitches flatten than the other guys'.

...or that our hitters capitalize a greater percentage of the time.

colorado is a crapshoot. cross your fingers.

2007-06-19 12:53:54
66.   Chyll Will
60 Good show, old man! Good show (coming on at 9pm on My9...)
2007-06-19 12:56:49
67.   Yankee Fan In Boston
66 you saw that?!? she said she'd keep it off these infernal information superinterwebs!

and now television?!?

i hope she got my good side...

2007-06-19 12:57:11
68.   bobtaco
If anyone wants to hear the original first verse of Take Me Out to the Ballgame, or a version sung in Yiddish go here:

A really nice interview by King Kaufman in Salon about early baseball songs:

I think most Banterers would dig it.

2007-06-19 13:01:40
69.   Chyll Will
67 Better hope she did; whoever she is, your stuck with her now. What a buddy! (I'll send you the ReadMe file if you need help...)
2007-06-19 13:03:38
70.   dianagramr
Alex .... you keep hitting them outta the park ....

Thanks for sharing that wonderful piece ...

2007-06-19 13:07:16
71.   weeping for brunnhilde
68 Spiel ball!

Thanks, bob, that was beautiful.

64 :)

2007-06-19 13:09:54
72.   Yankee Fan In Boston
69 great... i have to read something, too?... i already regret this.

71 (insert emoticon for a tip o' the hat... any suggestions, chyll?)

2007-06-19 13:19:18
73.   Chyll Will
72 Some Spanish Red, World Cup soccer at 3am, and James Ingram's "One Hundred Ways" will get you off to a fine start. If that doesn't work, try reading Barry White lyrics... and if THAT doesn't work, Alex has proven to be a great writer...

Alex Belth should be required reading for everyone. Period.

2007-06-19 13:24:26
74.   Yankee Fan In Boston
73 "Alex Belth should be required reading for everyone. Period."


my wife is not a baseball fan. she is perfect in every other way. i have been telling her that in time, she will appreciate the game. i've seriously been thinking that she just needs to read some of alex's writing. if this piece doesn't at the very least get the ball rolling, i will file papers and run away with your wife, chyll.

2007-06-19 13:34:09
75.   Chyll Will
74 For the record, I am not as blessed as you all, but if I were I know she'd enjoy being here as much as everyone else.

She'd have to be cukoo-for-cocoa-puffs, but then I'd be cukoo if she wasn't...

2007-06-19 13:42:22
76.   Yankee Fan In Boston
75 i'm unable to decipher the meaning of that last line, but i think i'm being insulted, but of course i would deserve that, considering my recent exploits, but this begs the question, "am i being insulted enough?" to which i give a resounding "no," so i will give you an assist:

you, YFiB, are a mouth breathing cretin.

that was no good... umm...

may my first born child be hindered with a mientkiewiczian swing and the personality of karim garcia.

there. that should at least be a step in the right direction...

2007-06-19 13:57:37
77.   Bama Yankee
76 that kid would be one heck of a good bull pen catcher...
2007-06-19 14:02:10
78.   Yankee Fan In Boston
77 and as gritty as the day is long...
2007-06-19 14:12:21
79.   Chyll Will
78 And a belly-full of guts?
2007-06-19 14:17:11
80.   weeping for brunnhilde
I just thought of an analogy, let me know what you guys think.

Those of you hung up on the rules and stats and all that, if you applied it to the Beatles, would argue for getting rid of Ringo because by any metric available, Ringo holds the band back.

Now, I would argue that whatever Ringo seems to contribute to you, it's clear that he's essential to the band and just leave well enough alone.

You stat people would counter that even though the band is winning with Ringo, imagine how much the more they'd win without him!

You'd accuse me of post hoc ergo proctor hoc.

So maybe Miggy is kind of like the Ringo figure in my mind.

Not a watertight analogy to be sure, but perhaps it helps me to articulate my perspective.

In other news, the family and I are all going out to see the New Haven Cutters tonight, some manner of minor league team.

Anyone know anything about them?

Spil ball!

2007-06-19 14:33:57
81.   Bama Yankee
80 Good analogy, but everyone knows that even though Pete Best had a low OPS at Liverpool, his EqA and PECOTA suggest that he would have had a higher VORP than Ringo... ;-)
2007-06-19 14:37:38
82.   Chyll Will
80 There'd be no argument if you watched "Yellow Submarine". That alone explains Ringo's importance to the band and to all mankind and music and the freedom of expression and... (ahem)

At first glance, the Cutters (of the "Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball, which is not affilitated with Major League Baseball") kinda suck. But if you dig deeper into it... you're likely missing the point. It's independent league baseball, which means have fun with the family, and if you sit close enough to the dugout they might send you in to pinch-hit. Enjoy! >;)

2007-06-19 14:50:43
83.   Bama Yankee
82 Ah, the Cutters... remember that movie Breaking Away? That dude Moocher was the same guy who played Kelly Leak in the Bad News Bears so you at least know that he can rake...
2007-06-19 15:01:34
84.   Chyll Will
83 Didn't see it. Any good? (or is that a stupid question...)

I'm getting an early work reprieve, so I'm going home with a quickness. I'll see you on the new post >;)

2007-06-19 17:08:32
85.   Connector
Alex - Speaking as a writer myself, your story was excellent: well-written, from-the-heart, and descriptive. Thanks for sharing.

51 I can relate. It's 03:05 over here, in Ma'ale Adumim, Israel. I went to sleep at 20:00 PM and set the alarm for 02:00 in order to catch this one. Thankfully the Dodgers are scoring runs.

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