Here’s the Wikipedia entry on Joseph Albert “Skippy” Roberge of Lowell, who played several years for the Boston Braves. He also played for several minor league clubs, including Toronto (see below).
Another twist on the Kerouac thing. Read about this designer, Gary Joseph Cieradkowski, and what he writes about Kerouac and baseball.
Watching a bit of the ballgame tonight. The Cards are facing elimination, but are leading the Phils 3 to 2 about mid-way through the game. Reminds me of watching the Game of the Week on one of the three big TV networks when I was young. It was the only time, other than the All Star Game and World Series, to see the National League players who were on baseball cards. One game sticks in my mind. It was a Saturday when I was about 12, I guess, and I was with my two Brady cousins who were a year younger and older than me. We were a trio in those days. My uncle had driven us to a “camp” on a pond in Westford that was owned by a friend of his. The weather was damp, so we were inside watching baseball.
The game could have been the Cubs and Giants or the Pirates and Dodgers. I think it was the Cubs because I can see the classic brick and ivy of Wrigley Field in my mind’s hard drive. Maybe the Cubs and Pirates—I vaguely recall Roberto Clemente and Ernie Banks were in this game. We rarely saw those guys in action. My recollection is that we were there a long time and saw most of the game. Nobody was in a rush to go. My uncle must have been talking with his friend. They may have been on the dock fishing. My cousins and I were heavy-duty baseball fans at the time. I don’t know why that afternoon of all afternoons has stayed with me. Maybe it was the unusual waterfront cottage or being a visitor in a new place—or simply the unhurried feeling of having all the time in the world when you are 12 years old. And there was something slightly exotic about watching a National League game in Red Sox country.
That afternoon came back to me tonight while watching the Cardinals and Phillies scrapping for a win. The Cardinals’ home uniforms with the two bright birds on the golden bat across their white shirt fronts are one of the most appealing designs in the majors. And the Phillies with that longstanding P on their caps are the latest in a line that gave us Johnny Callison, Fergie Jenkins, and Cookie Rojas.
The moment was immortalized by young John Updike writing for the New Yorker. His piece was titled “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.” Read the Updike article here from baseball-almanac.com.
You have to like Red Sox fans. Yesterday’s game against the Mariners was Maine Day at Fenway. New England state days are a ballpark tradition. The weather cleared as the game began. You have to like Red Sox fans. Team veteran Tim Wakefield got nicked for a couple of runs in the first inning, but soon settled down. The Sox piled up five runs in the bottom of the first, and it was looking like it would be a lot of fun at the game. In the top of the sixth inning, Wakefield struck out Mike Carp to end the inning. The scoreboard flashed the news that it was Wake’s 2,000th strikeout for the Red Sox. Only Roger Clemens has more K’s in Boston history. The crowd erupted and gave Wakefield a long standing ovation, calling him out of the dugout for a bow. Six innings. 11 to 3 in favor of the Sox. I figured the manager would give his starting pitcher the rest of the afternoon off. No. Old Tim came out to the mound for the seventh and got knocked around for a bunch of hits, including a grand slam homer that seemed to leave the park in slow-motion. Now it was time to go. Terry Francona walked to the mound to make the change. With his first step to the dugout, Wake set off another standing ovation, as if all the bottled up gratitude for his year-in, year-out work for the Red Sox got uncorked in that moment. You have to like Red Sox fans. Give up a granny—get a standing O. It helps when you are still up by three runs.
I hadn’t been to a Red Sox game in a while. In recent years I’ve seen the Spinners play in the Fenway Futures game and witnessed the Paul McCartney concerts, but it’s been several years since I’ve taken in a Sox game in the 99-year-old ballpark. My son and I had excellent seats that we picked up in a benefit auction at the American Textile History Museum last fall. We were in the red boxes, Sec. 17, Box 124, Row MM, between the batter’s box and on-deck circle. Fenway is a living museum. Jim Lonborg was in the house and saluted on the jumbo-screen. Looking down at third base, I could see the ghosts of Malzone, Foy, Petro, Lansford, Hobson, Mueller, Boggs, Lowell, even Wilton Veras who came up with the Spinners. I could see that miserable pop-up of Yaz’s in the playoff game against New York. I had a straight shot view of Fisk’s foul tower in left. I enjoyed the modern-day World Series banners. But it is largely the same shape and size as the place I visited as a kid. It’s a Boston time-machine.
You have to like Red Sox fans. In one of the middle innings, David Ortiz took a rip and his bat exploded. The barrel ended up in the boxes near the on-deck circle. Ushers rushed to the scene to be sure nobody was hurt, and tried to retrieve the shattered bat. On cue, the fans nearby started chanting, “Let her/Keep it, Let her/Keep it”—and the ushers gave in. You have to like Red Sox fans.
The former manager and player passed away last week. Here are a couple of baseball card memories of Dick Williams. The first is a Topps baseball card from 1964, and the other is his manager card from the Impossible Dream year of 1967, also a Topps card.
The great Minnesota Twins teams of the mid-1960′s were favorites of mine as epic opponents of the Red Sox. Tony Oliva, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Earl Battey, Camilo Pascual, Bob Allison, Don Mincher, Zoilo Versalles, Jim Kaat, Cesar Tovar, Ted Uhlaender, Jim Perry, Rich Rollins, and the rest. Rod Carew joined this crew in 1967.
Harmon Killebrew was like a battleship in the middle of the line-up, always ready to pound the opposing pitchers. To my kid’s ear, his name reminded me of Killer Kowalski, the hulking professional wrestler. I saw him hit a lot of home runs on TV.
In the hey-day of the Twins of this era, my father took me to a Red Sox-Twins Sunday double-header at Fenway Park. I was about 12 years old. The game was sold out, so we had standing-room tickets. We stayed for both games, standing in the rear of the homeplate grandstand. Late in the second game, we finally got seats. I remember the experience as pure baseball joy.
Web photo courtesy of boston.com (Boston Globe photo by Stan Grossfeld (c) 2008)
Here’s a poem from a warm spell during a February long ago. In addition to being in a couple of my books, this one was included in the anthology “Line Drives: 100 Contemporary Baseball Poems” edited by Brooke Horvath and Tim Wiles and published by Southern Illinois University Press.—PM
Last Sunday in February.
Neighbors lean on warm cars.
Snow pulls away from the grass.
At the corner variety store
kids huddle out front,
hustle off, scattering
baseball card wrappers
colorful as April tulips.
—Paul Marion (c) 1984, (c) 2006