On baseball, pt 2

Another interruption – a 2nd post about baseball, not woodworking. It’s long too. Back to woodworking next time, don’t worry. 

There are places I remember

All my life, though some have changed

Some forever not for better

Some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments

With lovers and friends I still can recall

Some are dead and some are living

In my life I’ve loved them all

I wonder, how did Lennon write that in his early 20s?

——————–

My brother Steve is all right. Like our father was, he is a life-long baseball fan. Here we are, 1968. Me about 10 yrs old, him 17 or so. This was right before I got beaned, knocked unconscious; mis-judged a flyball…out of view here is the pitcher – our father. 

pre-beard
pre-beard

This one’s from my wedding party, playing half-ball. 2003.

half-ball
half-ball

So when I had a question about the Red Sox playoff schedule I wrote to him. I was specifically wondering if there were going to be any day games (a long-shot, I knew) so I could take Daniel somewhere to watch one on TV.

His reply was to offer us 2 tickets to Saturday’s game, down the right-field line. Daniel’s dream come true…first time at Fenway. 

Daniel at Fenway

both of us at Fenway

We went in early so we could look around, then found our seats & got settled in.

settled in out by Peskey pole
getcha programs here…

He stuck to me pretty close, but from what I could gather he was thrilled to be there. To our surprise, Steve and his daughter Jane showed up before the game, turns out he got other tickets so they could go too. Told us they’d switch seats with us for an inning or two – so Daniel got a great view from the first-base side.  

I like the old style pants & socks...these look wrong
I like the old style pants & socks…these look wrong

Me, I’m still torn about this baseball thing.

Like I said, there’s a lot to it. It’s all muddled up with family, history (of a sort), nostalgia, romance. Heroes & goats, pieces of Americana larger than life. Something about being a kid and loving baseball, it’s all-consuming. Rosters, matchups, statistics, pennant races – so much to keep track of. And the players, the stories.The different parks, each with their own respective personalities, it’s all great stuff. Mostly. I still like the American history aspect of it. I ate it up as a kid, and my father and brother led the way. I played in the neighborhood, not on a team. Kids could do that where I lived then. So for the years when I was about Daniel’s age until I was probably about 14 (1963-1972) I would count myself a baseball fan. By the time I was 14, 15 years old, life went in other directions.

The family history part – my parents married in Boston in 1946.

Wedding photo
Wedding photo

That year the Red Sox went to the World Series, Ted Williams’ only appearance. Teddy Ballgame either choked, was injured or just plain had a bad series, and the Sox lost. But that’s beside the point. Many folks know that in the late ‘50s, through the sixties, the Sox stunk up the place. Then in 1967, I was 9, 10 years old. The Impossible Dream season – ninth place in 1966, first place in 1967. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_Boston_Red_Sox_season

My parents got tickets to games one & seven, part of a mail-in lottery. Someone who knew them back when they were growing up recognized the name Follansbee on the return address label and nabbed their application & sent them tickets. Sox lost in 7 games, but nowadays that season is recognized as the beginning of the current Red Sox mania.

Skip to 1975 – 29 years after 1946. My father died in April, just as the season got underway, The Red Sox went on to lose the World Series in 7 games, but it was the year of Carlton Fisk’s game-winning home run in game 6. I paid it no mind, but most of the rest of New England was glued to it. My mother took it personally that they had such a great season the year Moe died…

Fisk's home run
Fisk’s home run

Daniel drew this shot once –

Daniel's drawing of Fisk
Daniel’s drawing of Fisk

(1986 – doesn’t fit into my narrative –  I watched with my mother, she was cursing the team the whole time. Always the emotional fan, unlike my father who rarely said anything during a game. Anyway, we know what happened in ‘86. Enough.)

1975 plus 29 more years equals 2004. My mother died in the winter. Just about the time spring training started. That is the year the Red Sox team of Idiots finally won the World Series, the fall that I caved & got cable hooked up here at the house so I could watch. They won during an eclipse of the full moon. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…

For me, that did it. Broke the tension, and I lost any ability to be interested in what they were doing. Three years later they won again, & I didn’t see, read it, hear any of it. (It seems I saved the newspapers from that win, but I swear I never read them.)

Now, 2013. This summer, Daniel & I read the standings most every morning, listened to games now & then. Read the sports pages when we had time. He learned quickly – and there’s lots of arcane stuff to learn in baseball. I still forget a bunch of it…had to look up what happens when a pitcher balks.

My personal philosophy is still anti-pro sports. Period. I think it’s a hideous waste of time; reeks of greed and gluttony. For example, the games are at night, while perfect New England fall afternoons go begging for baseball. Watching the adult fans last night, I felt like a cultural mis-fit, and glad to be. Non-beer-swilling, not screaming at Will Myers, even the notion of giving surrounding patrons hi-5s because some overpaid athlete did what he’s supposed to do – seems stupid to me. So as I sat there, I was still of 2 minds – on one hand I thought about the behavior  in that park that night, the grown-ups wearing team jerseys with other men’s names emblazoned on them – why do they do that? I understand it for a 7-year old…but a 60-year old? Unless Yazstremski was there last night and the team stuck him out in the right field grandstand. This is not the blog post to start in about the smartphones – but this harkens to another problem I have. I work in public. I don’t need to go out in public otherwise really. Crowds piss me off. How many times last night did I hear “Hey – Duck Dynasty! Great beard, man!” A lot…

I even got caught on TV because I have a beard – 38,000 people there, & they found me. Many Red Sox players this season have beards. So there’s lots of commotion about facial hair…

TV screen shot of PF at Fenway
TV screen shot of PF at Fenway

BUT – the other part is also there. Because I could blur my eyes, and see and hear Fenway from 45-50  years ago. And think of me & my father going to those games. I never got to know what my father thought as he & I went to baseball games. But I think about it a lot now that I have kids. Had he lived, he might not have said anyway. I don’t know how many baseball games he took me to, I feel like we went a couple/few times a year for several years, but those figures might be inflated. One I recall very well was me & him at a double-header, with batting practice. To get there we started by walking down to Weymouth Landing, then a bus to Fields Corner, two branches of the subway and a walk up from Kenmore Square. That’s a LOT of hours for one day for a grown man, but being the kid then I couldn’t get enough of it. I can remember worrying what would happen if he got on the subway and the doors closed before I could get on with him. Decades later, I realized he was taking care to see that didn’t happen…

So I kept track of Daniel as we walked around Yawkey Way and into the ballpark. I thought he’d like to stroll & see the place. But after viewing the field from behind home plate he asked “can we go to our seats now?” so off we went again. For me, it was a great time only because I know how thrilling it was for him – it’s a nostalgia thing. Kids and baseball – a perfect fit.

He stayed up late, way after his bedtime. Sat on my lap most of the time. We walked back to the car through part of Kenmore Square, I showed him where I spent my miserable year in art school. Then he fell asleep as I drove home.

I knew Fenway had changed over the years, seats added here & there, electronic scoreboards, junk like that. And the music – arghhh. But one thing was just plain wrong. Olfactory senses are closely tied to memory. I wished they’d let people smoke cigars – Fenway didn’t smell right without it.

happy fan

 

 

 

moe
Moe Follansbee (1923-1975)

21 thoughts on “On baseball, pt 2

  1. I”m with you on the cigar thing. Seeing Yaz in ’67 was a thrill for me at age 13. And the cigars went all night. Fenway is so much more commercial now….a big disappointment to this fan. Glad you had a good time with Daniel.

  2. I totally saw you on TV, and was like “Was that Peter Follansbee, no couldnt be”

    Opps tie game bottom of the eight gotta go… Go red sox

  3. Peter, nice post. As a 53 yo part-time Luddite, I feel your angst. You are a good writer as well as a good woodworker. Oh yeah, and a great dad. Rick

  4. As a kid I devoured the scores, stats and such. Maybe only went to two Detroit Tigers games before adulthood, but regularly listened on radio when possible. Still read sports but not much invested in outcome or celebrity aspects, posing nature of today’s editions. The few times I’ve attended professional sports, it has left me very cold. Not big on crowd behavior in most contexts, and spectator sports even less. Times change, we change (most of us at least). Great to give your son the exposure (big thanks to your big brother) at a good time for him. Thanks for the quality thoughts and writing. I appreciate the reflections family.

  5. Nice post Peter. Reminds me of being a kid with my Dad. He passed away a little over a year ago. He was a mechanic and the smell of motor oil always reminds me of hanging out around the garage. I hope my boys feel the same about my workshop.

  6. This is why I love AAA ball. Kids run the bases, players interact with the fans, marriage proposals from the mound pre-game, all that. It’s local. Players aren’t paid much and don’t gain hero status (that’s a good thing) and rarely does one hear of a triple-a player on drug or alcohol related charges. If that happens, it’s kept quiet. It’s the perfect place to bring a child – beer proffering excluded. But that only leads to a good conversation on all the choices one can make to ruin themselves. Things a boy needs to know about becoming a man.

  7. So you’re gonna need a beach towel to mop up the puddle I just melted into…and damn I watched every minute of that game scouring the crowds to see you. The pic of you two is priceless and all the others…more melting. Love it all

  8. Tell me there’s a better metaphor for life than baseball? Frickin great post Peter. Thanks for sharing it all. Your brother is a champ to score you and Daniel tickets. I don’t have to tell you not to stress the “Duck Dynasty” and other dumbass peripherals at the game; they’re all fleeting.(Though I DO wish I saw you on channel 7 news–always figured it would be for something else however!).What Daniel takes away from it all is for keeps, just like it has been for you.

  9. Cape league games can be fun and going to see the Paw Sox is way better than Fenway, but as a kid I remember the awe that the stadium inspired the few times I went to games with my dad. As an adult however, I feel like the place is a mess of mouthbreathers.

  10. I don’t know the first thing about baseball BUT I do have a 4 yo girl and a 1yo boy and I totally get where your coming from.
    Cracking post

  11. Glad you had a good time – baseball reminds me Dad and of Good Will Hunting

    Will: So, when did you know, like, that she was the one for you?
    Sean: October 21st, 1975.
    Will: Jesus Christ. You know the frigging’ date?
    Sean: Oh yeah. ‘Cause it was Game 6 of the World Series. Biggest game in Red Sox history.
    Will: Yeah, sure.
    Sean: My friends and I had, you know, slept out on the sidewalk all night to get tickets.
    Will: You got tickets?
    Sean: Yep. Day of the game. I was sittin’ in a bar, waitin’ for the game to start, and in walks this girl. Oh, it was an amazing game, though. You know, bottom of the eighth, Carbo ties it up at 6-6. It went to twelve. Bottom of the twelfth, in stepped Carlton Fisk. Old Pudge. Steps up to the plate, you know, and he’s got that weird stance.
    Will: Yeah, yeah.
    Sean: And BAM! He clocks it. High fly ball down the left field line! Thirty-five thousand people, on their feet, yellin’ at the ball, but that’s not because of Fisk. He’s wavin’ at the ball like a madman.
    Will: Yeah, I’ve seen…
    Sean: He’s going, “Get over! Get over! Get OVER!” And then it HITS the foul pole. OH, he goes apeshit, and 35,000 fans, you know, they charge the field, you know?
    Will: Yeah, and he’s frigging’ bowlin’ police out of the way!
    Sean: Goin’, “God! Get out of the way! Get ’em away!” Banging people…
    Will: I can’t frigging’ believe you had tickets to that frigging’ game!
    Sean: Yeah!
    Will: Did you rush the field?
    Sean: [surprised at the question] No, I didn’t rush the frigging’ field; I wasn’t there.
    Will: What?
    Sean: No – I was in a bar havin’ a drink with my future wife.
    Will: You missed Pudge Fisk’s home run?
    Sean: Oh, yeah.
    Will: To have a frigging’ drink with some lady you never met?
    Sean: Yeah, but you shoulda seen her; she was a stunner.

    SRF – I was with a “Stunner” married her and
    I saw the game.

    • Mr. Williams knocked it out of the park in that movie. The movie remains an anthem for many of us good scholars/bad students. Can only image the impact if I’d been Boston born rather than Motown.

  12. Great post Peter, some really wonderful insights. I go back and forth on the gross amounts of money people get paid to play a game, the hype and the performance enhancing drugs etc., but for my son it’s been great, both playing and watching! Who can’t love fenway! Thanks for the post.

    It is nice to see that beards are back!!!!

  13. Oh I love this post! I love baseball for how it used to be…and I am a HUGE Carlton Fisk fan. What a wonderful time for Daniel. As for pro sports today, I totally agree with you, and true too about the smell of cigars at ballparks!

  14. Missed your blog yesterday, Peter. New laptop and a lot of missing items! So glad Steve posted this on Facebook. Happy he was able to give you the chance to take Daniel to Fenway. Lots of nice memories for you and hopefully, the beginning of many new ones for Daniel.
    Great writing by the way. You are truly a man of many talents.

  15. Yes. Yes. Yes!

    Thanks, Peter. As usual, a steady hand with sharp tools and many nails hit deftly on the head.

    I’m forwarding it to my baseball friends. With my own grump about repetitious post-game scenes from Animal House after something has been “clinched.” Millionaires wasting liquor and glorifying drunkenness. Ugly. Very far from good baseball. Scripted (I wonder . . . ; I hate to think) by TV producers who are eager for more advertising slots and higher ratings for liquor ads?

    JohnK

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