Friday, March 18, 2011

A Magical May Night In 1947

One May night in 1947, my father took me to see a Yankee ballgame in which Frank ( Spec) Shea, the successful rookie  was pitching against the Boston Red Soxs. This was the original Yankee Stadium built to hold over 74,00 people. This night there was 74,000 people in the stands and the place was rocking. The wheels started to come off Shea's cart in the fourth inning and the noise was quieting down. Suddenly the bases were loaded and the Yankee Manager, Bucky Harris, called in Joe Page, a lefty pitcher who had shown promise but little accomplishment, to face Rudy York, Boston's first baseman, a right handed slugger who had been traded from Detroit. Page got the count to three balls and no strikes. Harris, in the dugout, made the decision that if he allowed York to reach base he would yank Page and send him back to the minors. The crowd erupted with a roar as the next pitch was a fastball right down the middle for a strike. The following pitch was a strike and as the very ground shook with excitement Joe Page struck out Rudy York . From that point on Page was invincible and 7400 voices cheered every pitch excited not only because Page had turned the game around with his electric fastball but as if they knew that Joe Page and the Yankees were on their way to another championship. Joe Page won 14 games and saved 14 games that year as the Yanks went on to win the World Series, against the Brooklyn Dodgers, I think.

What a game! Under the stars on a hot Spring Night at Yankee Stadium that was going to live on as one of the great moments in the history of the Yanks and Baseball. AND I WAS THERE! There wasn't much TV back then and radio broadcast the game but I was there because my father took me. We left in the seventh inning to beat the crowd and my father had to get up early for work the next morning. As we boarded the Lexington Ave. Woodlawn El, I head the cheers for every pitch thrown for at least two stops away. The roar of the crowd, the excitement in the air, being there, just me and my father and 73,998 other people most of whom were fellow Yankee fans. This something I have carried in the echos of my mind when I get lost in the reveries of my youth.

Now however when I think of the magical night I have added the realization of just who my father was and how much he meant to me and our family. I can remember walking into the great stadium which was just across the street from a jail. Loads of people yelling and screaming and having raucous fun.  If I was alone I most certainly would have been somewhat cautious in this surrounding. Getting on the subways could have also been a frightening experience as the people shoved and pushed and fought for their spots. We New Yorkers must always have our space. Getting the hot dog and drink would have been something I would have never tried to negotiate on my own. However, I was with my father and he knew how to do everything. He also asserted himself in a quiet assuring way. Without realizing it at that age and downward I was comfortable with life because my father would protect us and take care of any problems that might arise, that my mother couldn't handle. Unfortunately, the process of growing up takes these feelings away from you. Parents no longer have that God like quality to comfort and take care of the problems we encounter. We, in many cases become that ever presence, ever protecting symbol to our children, I hope. But as we grew stronger and they grew weaker, we too grow weaker and our children grow stronger and so the cycle continues. But as I lose myself in my reveries, I enjoy returning to that state when not only I was younger but so were they.
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