It’s never easy to walk on snow, especially after it’s been smoothed over by a hundred human feet. It’s a cartoon nightmare, being chased and forever slipping, going nowhere. Time for sedation. Time for Number 9 on Internet Audio Archive, Phil Rizzuto’s play-by-play from Fenway Park, Yankees-Red Sox, August 16th, 1958, 10 years to the day Babe Ruth passed away.
“Baseball names fade away,” Rizzuto says, “But the Babe will be one of the last to go.”
Fade away? If I forget Von Joshua, Kent Tekulve, Bob Galasso, Dick Davis, what is the porpoise of a GPS? Who needs a destination! I’ll sit in the dark.
“Williams struggles against Don Larsen,” Rizzuto explains. It’s apparently a timing issue and I trust Rizzuto. He says Larsen never pitches from the wind-up, but with a runner on base, he has to slow down, come to a complete stop, sneak a peek at the runner, keep him honest. Larson gets real deliberate and so the timing of Williams returns and so does the law of averages. The splendid splinter drives in the first run of the game, a deep sac fly.
It’s 4:30 pm. I’m not really walking in the snow, more like sliding, I’m almost home, but don’t really want to be there.
Jimmy Piersall dances off first base a few innings later and keeps dancing. Rizzuto takes notice and so does Larsen, his mind so messed up that Casey Stengel screams from the Yankees dugout, “Get the batter. Forget the runner.” But Larson doesn’t listen. He walks the opposing pitcher – Tom Brewer on four pitches. It’s the third inning.
Radio is radio. Probably hasn’t changed since August 5, 1921 when the Pirates beat the Phillies 9-5 and Harold Arlin of KDKA Pittsburgh brought fans not really there…….there.
It’s getting dark and I wish Jarry Park was still in Montreal and some guy named Billy Eau Claire would drag a fold out lawn chair and AM transistor radio up St. Laurent Street and recline where first base once was, for 2-3 hours and move to a new spot the next day and continue counter-clockwise every successive day, around an infield that didn’t exist, an outfield too, a place for pinch hitters as well, defensive subs, a starting rotation, set up and long man, closer, and every 25 days, a cycle of recline would be complete and Billy Eau Claire would start over….a Jarry Park Mirage,
root root rooting for the tree,
for the home team,
a beggar with open palms.
And local kids would find out about Billy Eau Clair like they would find out about death and they would brave bad weather to go and see this curiosity sprawled out on a lawn chair. Billy would be glad to see them and talk about extinct teams and his favorite kind of donuts and the swimming pool on the other side of right field at Jarry Park.
“where Willie Stargell performed magic tricks,” Billy would explain. “Every time Stargell stepped to the Jarry plate, the pool emptied of people, scattered ’em like roaches.”
The kids would move closer to Billy’s lawn chair and Billy would feel energized, a vampire with new blood.
“Stargell was already part of the city’s collective DNA by that point,” he would continue to say. “After hitting a few bombs into that pool, swimmers were scared, bump on the noggin cartoon scared.”
And the kids would forget why they came in the first place. Billy would read it on their faces like braille.
“Why not replay entire seasons,” Billy would then suggest or insist. “Blast broadcasts from megaphones rigged up on street corners, game after game, a serial summer in the middle of winter, in the middle of now here or there, time melting in the wind.
The kids would know this to be impossible. Billy would too. There would be 154 games to collect, 162 from 1962 onward, too many, but the obstacle would be delicious, activate their Hunter and Gatherer gene. There would be back alley trades.
“Give you the first five innings of Rizzuto 1958 for a Bob Uecker 1986 – Danny Darwin’s complete game against the Angels.
I eventually made it home. Recharged my MP3 player and somehow fell asleep. Morning arrived. I didn’t feel free. I never do. There’s a river to cross. I forget what color, but there is number 12 on internet audio archive…the first ever Mets game, a cockadoooodledooooo to another day,
Sportsman’s park, St Lewey, Mizoooo-eeee.
Bob Murphy calling the action, the first inning anyway.Roger Craig is on the mound for the Mets. Don Zimmer at third and Richie “put the cigarette out before bed so your Ash don’t burn” Ashburn in center field at the definite twilight of his career, his 15th and final year and what a year it would be, at 35 years young, almost 400 at bats, a .306 average and .424 OB%. I love expansion.
Minnie Minosa is in the batting order, for the Cardinals and Chicago is in Houston to “play the Colts,” says Bob Murphy. I guess he forgot about the .45s. They never had an apostrophe. It’s only the bottom of the first. The left field fair pole is 350 feet away from the plate. Right field pole only 310. How many home runs did Musial hit at Sportsman’s Park? Solly Hemus is a coach for the Mets. He used to manage the Cardinals. What a name….Solly Hemus….like the name of hamburger. Give me a Hemus with all the toppings.
This could go on forever. I gotta get to work. It’s never easy to walk on snow but it does seem easier with headphones.