Love long gone for baseball

Ah, the World Series is finally over and I can say that I watched all of about three innings of it. It’s on too late, I don’t care about the teams, and baseball is boring if for no other reason that players change teams so often, and always for money, that I have no idea who plays for whom and long ago I stopped caring.

Oh, sure, every spring I start rooting against the Red Sox the way I used to root against the Yankees, but I don’t feel good about it. I feel good about rooting against the Sox, but not all that good because I really don’t care. Part of the reason is that, living in a town with no cable access and on land with trees too high to allow a dish, I don’t get any games except a few Fox TV matchups on a Saturday but I REALLY don’t care about them.

Once upon a time, in a land far away (New Jersey) I cared about baseball. Games were on free television every night – until 1958, we had the Dodgers, the Giants and the Yankees. After the first two moved to California, we had the Yankees and, eventually, the Mets. There was always a game and if the Mets were awful, it was baseball and you knew the players and the manager and you could even afford to go to a game.

After I got out of the Navy and was working for The Hudson Dispatch in Union City, N.J., I would go to Mets afternoon games on my day off and sit pretty much anywhere I wanted because it was before 1969, so they weren’t very good. But they were getting there with Seaver and Koosman and Nolan Ryan.

One afternoon, I saw Ryan, in the top of the first, walk the bases full of Giants. Gil Hodges came out and talked to him and after he went back to the dugout, Ryan struck out the next three guys he faced, including Willie McCovey. With the bases fulla Giants.

Years later, I went to an afternoon game at Yankee Stadium and saw Jim Palmer of the Orioles beat the Yanks, I’m happy to say, 1-0. Great game. I also saw the first game of the “new” Yankee Stadium in 1976, Reggie Jackson’s first year, and after the game, listened to a debate in a bar near the stadium that more or less revolved around this question:

“Is Reggie Jackson a superstar or just a star?”

Opinions varied, but had one thing in common: The longer we were in the bar, the louder, and more certain, they got.

As a kid, I hated the Dodgers because I loved the Giants. When they went west, I hated the Yankees because, for some reason, I decided to like the Tigers, maybe because Frank Lary and Don Mossi pitched so well against them and lost anyway. It was tragic, but beautiful in a way.

My mother, however, LOVED the Yankees. I have no idea why. In our neighborhood, the Dillons and the Venturinis were Yankee fans, too. I have no idea why, but Stasia Dillon was my mom’s best friend, so maybe that sparked her rooting interest.

One thing in this latest World Series that got me thinking was the name of the Royals’ manager: Ned Yost. It got me thinking about Eddie Yost, who played third base for the Washington Senators and the Tigers, mostly in the ‘50s, and I suddenly remembered a summer day when all my friends were somewhere else and I was just outside by myself, in front of our house. I came in and out several times for whatever reason and my mother had the Yankees-Senators game on TV, sort of watching, sort of listening as she did whatever she did back then. I don’t remember much except at the end, the Senators had won because Eddie Yost hit three homers and Mickey Mantle struck out five times.

Funny what you remember, eh?

Here’s a baseball memory I’m not sure of, that I can’t prove, and that I’ve found no way to research:

One night, I’m not sure quite when, I swear that Whitey Ford of the Yanks and Early Wynn of either the Indians or the White Sox hooked up and both had no-hitters going into the eighth inning. That’s all I remember. I’ve asked my friend Patty, a die-hard Yankee fan who works on the sports desk at the New York Times, about it but she could never find anything on it. But I swear I remember it that way.

Anybody got a box score?

Yes, I used to love baseball. I even had a scrapbook of stories cut out from The Record, our northern New Jersey daily. For some reason, the only one I remember was about the pitcher Ned Garver beaning Brooks Robinson. Weird.

Now, though, you can keep it. Even if the Sox went back onto free TV, I wouldn’t watch, especially if they played at night. I don’t even watch night football games, unless the Patriots, the Giants, or the Broncos are playing, and then I never get past the first half.

Play ball? Not me. Not the way it’s played, and televised, today, no thanks.