So Long Scooter and the History of a Ball

August 15, 2007 at 10:57 pm | Posted in Sports, Video, Yankees | 1 Comment

rizzuto.jpgWhen I was about 5 or 6, my neighbor Rocky – who’s like a grandfather to me – gave me a baseball signed by Red Sox greats Carl Yastremski and Dick Radatz.

I treasured the gift, and assured him I would see to it that more names were added.  But I was easily starstruck, with a limited appreciation for the difference between legitimate stars and scrubs.  As a result, my father occassionally had to bail me out of baseball card trades where I’d been duped into accepting an Oscar Gamble card, for example, in exchange for a Pete Rose card, simply because I liked Oscar’s afro.

This naivety also resulted in the almost immediate desecration of the Yaz/Radatz ball.  My father took me to Fenway, and prior to batting practice we stood by the dugout hoping that Jim Rice or Dwight Evans might come our way.  Instead, Glenn Hoffman came over and started signing for fans.  My dad quietly tried to pull me away, but I was overexcited and determined to add another legend to the ball.

Hoffman casually chatted with fans, working his way down the line until he got to me.  He looked at the ball, and I could swear in hindsight there was a split-second where he knew he was about to severely compromise its value.  I was thrilled.

In the years that followed, I added a few more Sox duds including Jody Reed and Rich Gedman.  But I also got Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, and Eric Davis, who seemed, at the time, destined for the Hall of Fame.

When I moved to New Jersey, we lived down the street from Fairmount Country Club, which held a huge celebrity golf tournament.  There I got the ball signed by Phil Rizutto, Yogi Berra, and starkly juxtaposed beneath Rich Gedman, Joe DiMaggio.

gamble.jpgI don’t remember much about meeting Rizutto, who passed away Monday, except for that he and Yogi came across as the kind, gentle old men that they already were.  Rizutto patted my head in that cute, grandfatherly way.  At that point, I knew him more as Scooter, the “Holy Cow” guy that commentated the Yankee games I watched on WPIX.

I do remember DiMaggio though, and he was a real prick though.  At least he was on that particular day, which seems consistent with other accounts I’ve heard.  I must’ve been in fourth grade and I had a Little League game that night at a field across from the course.  As he signed my ball, I looked up and invited him to the game.  It would be silly to think he’d accept such an offer, but rather than politely decline, he furrowed his brow and stared at me as if I was insane.  Then he just mumbled “No”, gave me the ball, and walked away.  Oh well.

Of course, even if I had stuck with Yaz and Radatz, and then proceeded to get the ball signed by Boggs, Ted Williams, the ghost of Babe Ruth, and Jesus Christ himself, it really wouldn’t have matterered. 

About a month ago, Lucy the Dog found the ball in a closet and chewed it all night.  Boggs is gone altogether.  Glenn Hoffman is now Glenn Hof.  And Joltin’ Joe is now just Joltin’ oe.  Whatcanyado.

As a sidenote, Wade Boggs loves beer

And I’m glad that like Wade and Babe and Roger and Johnny, I saw the err of my ways early on and became a Yankee fan.  Because Red Sox fans are retards.  Except this one, at least until her cancer has been in remission for 10 years.  At that point, she will cease being a precocious adorable hero and return to her rightful place as Red Sox fan retard.  Good luck, kid.

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  1. Phil Rizzuto was dramatically overrated. But you’re right about him being a nice guy. I met him once while playing baseball in college. His granddaughter did the announcing for Wesleyan’s team and he came to one of the games. He was nice to everyone.

    As a Mets fan, though, I’d rather be crammed between two Red Sox retards than anywhere near any of the John Gotti wannabe dipshits that pollute Yankee Stadium.


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