Monday, September 24, 2012

Bye, Bye Baby!

My Dad's old baseball team clinched a divisional title Saturday night, our time. The San Francisco Giants, formerly of the Polo Grounds, captured their second western division crown in the last three seasons beating the San Diego Padres at home, though Candlestick Park is long gone, and more (most) importantly finished ahead of the hated Dodgers, be they the Lords of Flatbush in Brooklyn or Los Angeles again (emphasis on the final word deliberate and more).

He loved baseball and rooted for the Mets quite passionately when they arrived on the scene despite the most dubious team colors in the history of sports. And because he rooted for them, all of the boys in my house for them as well, though we all knew his abiding passion was the ball club by the bay, on the Other Coast. I never had a hard time rooting for the Yankees as well but I don't recall him ever warming to the Pinstripes.

Instead he remained a fan of Orlando Cepeda, all of the Alou Brothers (I think they could occupy an entire clown car or van, and often did), Willie McCovey, Willie Mays (of course!), Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichal. He was most passionate about them in my memory when Alvin Dark was the manager though I don't recall a great deal of good in terms of results as a result of that passion.

You can look the players' names up yourself-they are important to Giants' fans and to baseball historians but in a game where the places of prominence are held by players from the Red Sox and Yankees, those from the Royals and the SF Giants, among many others, end up as a footnotes.

It was back when there were two All-Star games every year and players got hurt in them because the competition between the leagues was ferocious. When guys played right through to the last day of the season, and never sat out to protect batting crowns and there was nothing even vaguely resembling a designated hitter.

The Giants of today, technically of Saturday, clinched with a pitcher I used to watch throw for their Double A affiliate here where I live in Norwich, the Navigators, themselves a baseball footnote and Marco Scutaro, a cast-off from the hated (by me) Red Sox, helped seal the deal.

On a  weekend where the Yankees and the Orioles were slow dancing in the American League East, I'd like to think that Dad would have had a crappy little transistor radio with the one cord earplug in his right ear, trying to tune to somebody's game not because he was concerned about their results but was hoping for a West Coast update. I can nearly see his smile now.
-bill kenny  

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