“One is the Loneliest Number”

bxp30237.jpgOn June 29 in Baseball History…

  • 1916 – The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds played a nine-inning game with just one baseball.

I read this seemingly innocuous little tidbit in the New York Times sports section yesterday morning.

But then I started thinking about

  1. All the foul balls sent into the stands in any baseball game.
  2. All the times I’ve seen pitchers ask for a new ball.
  3. All the times I’ve seen an umpire throw a ball out of play.
  4. All the home runs I’ve seen hit out of the park.

and it made me wonder:

Did they only HAVE one ball? 

If so, did they offer some kind of inducement for fans catching foul balls, er–THE foul ball–to “ante up” THE one game ball so that the game could continue? 

Just how dirty and beat-up did this one baseball get after nine innings of play?

And who got to KEEP this legendary baseball?  It seems that it should’ve been kept for historical purposes, no?

Just some random thoughts that I pondered yesterday…it beat ruminating on the reasons why the Mets seem to remain hell-bent on staying a .500 team.

“I cried myself to sleep…”

Crying_on_pillow_3 Today is really a Black Friday for my husband, Garry. 

I don’t know what he’s more tearful about today:  the current Mets slump and anticipated rout at Yankee Stadium or remembering the Mets trading Tom Seaver thirty years ago today.

I wanted my husband to be a guest contributer for this post today to write about his thoughts surrounding events thirty years back, but he is far too busy to do so.  Not having been a baseball fan much less a Mets fan thirty years ago today, I wouldn’t presume to retell this emotion-packed story.  Better to hear it from the key players in the drama themselves or from more knowledgeable bloggers, such as Greg at Faith and Fear in Flushing.

But trying to paraphrase his thoughts, my husband–who was home in Albany after his freshman year at Columbia University at the time of these events–says he cried himself to sleep that night.  He mentions the general presumption that he and others held that favorite players of theirs would finish their careers playing with the same team they started with having been shattered in that instant.  He speaks of it being made unfailingly clear to him on that night–one-and-one-half years into free agency–that, indeed, "no on was untouchable". 

Setting the stage for me, he tells me that–as had been true for a number of years–the Mets were not a great team that year.  In spite of that fact, Seaver had remained with the team and had been its main draw. 

So.  The team stinks.  And its ace has just left town for more money.  What could be worse?  The cross-town Yankees win the World Series that year.  And again in 1978.  Some very hard years to hold your head high as a Mets fan, I’m guessing.

He also remembers that the year Seaver was traded, the All-Star Game was held at Yankee Stadium, and Seaver was selected to the National League All-Star Team.  When his name was announced and he strode onto the field, wearing his red-and-white Cincinnati Reds uniform and number 41 jersey, he received a huge, long ovation from the New York fans.   

"It was like a dagger to the heart of any Mets fan," says Garry.

06110503 Those days may be be long gone, but obviously the pain is not so deeply  buried for many. 

That makes me feel all the better about having been able to arrange a very special Father’s Day present for Garry a few years ago.

A local business had arranged for Tom Seaver to do a signing, and my daughter and I took him there as a surprise.  I loved seeing the thrill on his face when he was able to introduce his then seven-year-old daughter to Tom, referring to him as "the greatest pitcher who ever lived."

My camera captured this moment when Tom, without hesitation, looked my daughter square in the eye and said to her, "Your Daddy’s a very SMART MAN."