Hey. Thanks for stopping by.
I have no preconceived notion about where this blog is going. It’s pretty much my own sounding board and test platform. I’m doing this as a warmup for a book I’m hoping to write about people I’ve come across. For some reason, although I don’t blend into a crowd real well, I’ve managed to get up close and personally meet literally hundreds of athletes, elected officials, and other public figures.
I have a collection of autographs and assorted memorabilia, all of which I have personally obtained upon meeting the person in question. Except for two small exceptions – a long time ago, I bought a Mark Messier-autographed 1994 Rangers Stanley Cup Commemorative stick, limited edition, one of 1994; the other one is a San Francisco ’49ers game program autographed by Deion Sanders, which an old business associate got for me.
Other than those two items, I personally obtained the autograph directly from the athlete, politician, or celebrity.
I’m not sure when I got my first autograph. I do remember the first time I ever went to Yankee Stadium, although I’m not clear on the year. The Yankees beat the White Sox in a doubleheader, 6-0 and 12-1. Al Downing and Whitey Ford were the starters, and Tom Tresh hit three home runs on the day. My father took me; the seats we had were in the reserved section on the second deck, along the first-base line. My father always sat on the first-base line because “that’s where all the action is.” Also, because he played first base.
Our seats were in the second level, but Yankee Stadium (the original one) had these nasty green girders in front of us, so I had to lean to the right to see the pitcher’s mound and my dad had to lean to the left. We sat there for about five innings, went downstairs, and my pop walked over to an usher and handed him ten bucks, which was a lot, considering reserved seats were $2.50, and box seats were $3.50 . Also, we lived in New York City public housing, so it was a strain for him to afford to go in the first place.
Tenner in pocket, the usher had us follow him down the aisle on the home plate side of the Yankees’ dugout, and he sat us down in the third box from the rail, six rows from the field, and maybe 50 feet to the on-deck circle. Being a little kid, I was only slightly taller than the front rail, and at the end of the 7th-inning stretch, I wandered up to the rail and called out to Yanks’ 3rd baseman Clete Boyer. And he actually turned around and waved to me! “Hi, kid.”
Not only hadn’t I ever seen a baseball game in person before, I’d never seen a game in COLOR. We only ever had a black & white television until I was a teenager. And here I was, in Yankee Stadium, six rows behind the Yankees’ dugout.
I think that’s what started me out as a sports fan for life – nothing could be better than being AT the game. Yankee Stadium smelled like no other place I’d ever been, with the exception of Seattle, where you can’t breathe at Safeco Field from the goddamned garlic fries.
The breeze never blew like it did at the stadium, the colors were always more intense at the game, and going to a game – baseball, football, hockey, basketball to an extent – is like no other experience I can describe.
I used to work for a very wealthy pervert who would max his FICA withholdings in January, but who would ream your ass for the equivalent of a 25-cent tip to a room-service bellhop on a $12,000 business trip to China. I can remember him telling me, after I completely revamped our record-keeping and computerized the entire domestic and overseas network, in the early 1990s,”The Internet is a fad. In five years, I’m going to regret buying these damn computers.” A very progressive thinker he was.
The guy didn’t know much about sports, besides who the Broncos were playing, but he once said to me, when we were out watching a Colorado Rockies game, “Life … is good … at the ballgame.” And, I’ll be damned, he hit that one right out of the park. Apparently it doesn’t take much.
Well, when I said I didn’t know where I was going with this, I planned to tell you the Clete Boyer story (whose autograph I never actually even tried to get – more on that in a future post), but I didn’t expect it to end with the sawed-off little troll I used to work for in another lifetime.
Come back soon. I’m sure we’ll both encounter some surprises along the way. Thanks!