Saturday, October 10, 2020

Whitey, Baseball Wounds and Unoccupied Seats

 ("In a Golden Era for the Yanks, the Mound Belonged to Whitey Ford")

Tonight's demise at the hands of Tampa was painful in the way a bad tooth hurts just before it is pulled. But, the seventh game loss to the Pirates in 1960 was, to borrow the parlance of Muhammad Ali, the closest thing to death I have ever experienced in my Yankee loving life. I ached from the moment the ball passed over Yogi's head in left (yes, left) until the electric M&M home run derby revitalized my soul the following glorious summer. 

Six decades have passed since Bill Mazeroski became the original Bucky F'ing Dent, a player who drove a dagger deep into the hearts of the opposition and that eight year old boy who often slept with his glove at his side.

The Yankees have misplaced their aura of invincibility for over a decade now, so the sting of Mr. Brousseau's retort for a regular season 101 MPH missile out of the hand of Mr. Chapman directed at his opponent's psyche, was not wholly unanticipated. But that 1960 squad was fully imbued with the power of inevitable victory, especially against a far inferior squad from Pittsburgh.

The Yanks beat them from pillar to post in their three victories and surely it was preordained that the last contest would be their coronation. But the gods can be cruel at times to little boys. And big ones.

I know your piece was devoted to the Chairman of the Board (until today I didn't realize why he received this title). But you were the one who opened up a 60 year old wound in referencing Casey's mismanagement of Whitey's work schedule that series.

If you put Whitey side by side with Gerrit Cole, from their size, stem to stern, to the speed of their fastball, you would have wagered your mother's last penny that Whitey had spent a career laboring at a different pursuit. But, your mom would have died penniless and you would never let that happen.

I am nearing 70 now and I understand there will in fact be a next year, even as there was this one, Covid be damned. There will be unexpected heroics and unexplainable defeats.

If I am fortunate there will never be another Mazeroski in my baseball lifetime, Mr. Brousseau notwithstanding. But also likely never another Chairman of the Board. That seat is now vacant. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does bring back third grade memories. Glad to see they all wore 16.