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Archive for the ‘COMING OF AGE’ Category

CORONAVIRUS 5.0 Quarantine Stella Uno

August 10, 2020 1 comment

“Social distancing?  I’ve been practicing social distancing since 9th. grade.”

PASSING: PETE HAMILL, 1935-2020

August 5, 2020 1 comment

Pete Hamill has passed.

Mr. Hamill was a contemporary and real life friend of departed journalists Jimmy Breslin and Jack Newfield.

Mr. Hamill wrote for the DAILY NEWS, N.Y. POST, NEW YORK and the VILLAGE VOICE.

Mr. Hamill, like Mr. Breslin and Mr. Newfield, began as a sportswriter and wrote occasionally about sports for his entire writing career.

Indeed, my first recollection of reading Mr. Hamill was an article in SPORT magazine about AFL star Cookie Gilchrist wherein Mr. Gilchrist related his thought that the A.F.L. and  Canadian Football league were friendlier to black players than the N.F.L.

This was at Merrick Avenue Elementary School in 1966!

Mr. Hamill’s A DRINKING LIFE is a pinspot accurate account of alcohol’s delights and drawbacks.

I have definitely read over 1100 hours of Mr. Hamill’s writing.

It wasn’t’ enough.

 

 

 

 

HAIKI 5*7*5* Frozen pineapple juice

July 18, 2020 1 comment

Thinking of my Mom

The frozen pineapple juice

Still the July bomb

PASSING: Al Kaline 1934-2020

April 16, 2020 1 comment

Al Kaline passed away on Monday, April 6, 2020, of undisclosed causes.

Al Kaline was the very first inductee into my own personal Baseball Hall of Fame.

My very fist baseball bat, bought by my Dad for my 8th. birthday, was an Al Kaline Little League Louisville Slugger model.

My Al Kaline bat met its sad demise when Kieran McLeod threw it into the asphalt of North Bayles Ave. after popping up to Ricky Lapera during one of the innumerable self-hitting baseball games of my boyhood.

The knob, and my heart, broke.

My next bat was a Steve Whitaker model, a perennial prospect of the Yankees. 

Such is life.

I had just learned the basics of baseball even as I had begun collecting baseball cards at 5 years of age.

Mom took the time to cut out the baseball cards from the backs of Post Cereals boxes so I could impress my 1st. grade classmates in Mrs. Ristori’s 1st. grade glass in the Merrick Ave. school in Merrick, Long Island.

(“They’re the wrong cards!” I whined as Mom didn’t know that Topps cards were the medium of exchange.  The Post cards are now quite valuable.  I still have the Tony Taylor card from Taylor’s first stint with the Phillies).

As a rotund boy in Merrick kickball was my only ball sport even as I filled Keds sneaker boxes with baseball cards.  Moving to Port Washington’s 42 North Bayles Ave’s dead end street enabled what little athleticism I had and my year at Sands Point Academy in Sands Point had Coach Mayerson’s considerable patience being rewarded by my elevation to “shoot it out to play” status. 

Dad’s purchase of an Al Kaline Little league Louisville Slugger bat and Ray Culp MacGregor mitt became my favorite possessions.

Al Kaline was born into a working class Baltimore family.  His father, Nicholas (1), was a former semi-pro baseball player who worked in a broom factory.

His mother, Naomi,(1), scrubbed floors.   Al Kaline aimed for a career in MLB from grade school and his parents did everything to enable their son.

Al Kaline was born within a year of Henry Aaron, Frank Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Roger Maris and Rocky Colavito, so 1934 was a good year for right fielders.   Hmmm…(2)

The Detroit Tigers signed Al Kaline from Baltimore’s Southern High School the day after high school graduation.(1)

Mr. Kaline was in the major leagues a week later without playing even  a day of minor league baseball, let alone college ball.(1)

Kaline lead the American League in hitting in 1955 with a .340 mark at 20 years of age.  66 seasons later Mr. Kaline is still the youngest batting champ in MLB history.(2)

Kaline, like Mickey Mantle, suffered from osteomyelitis which resulted in a brittle bone structure and necessitated the removal of a diseased bone from his foot long before Kaline’s debut with the Detroit Tigers.(1)

In 1962 Kaline broke his foot and his foot speed diminished.  Never again would Kaline reach double figures in stolen bases or hit more than 5 triples. (2).

Indeed, Kaline’s career was defined by injuries.  1965 saw foot surgery, 1967 had Kaline breaking a pinky jamming a bat back into its rack and most famously having his left forearm broken by an errant pitch delivered by Lew Krausse of the Oakland A’s in 1968.(3).

Mr. Kaline played 2384 games over 22 seasons.  Given his talent it is reasonable to guess that Kaline missed about 500 games with bone-related maladies.

From 1963-1968, in what my old customer Dave called the “ERA era,”  runs scored in both leagues plummeted as the number of night games increased annually and  Little League trained hurlers threw from 15” mounds at a strike zone expanded in 1963.

Along with Kaline’s various injuries this produced a dampening effect on hitting stats.  Indeed quite a few players; Kaline’s Tiger teammate, 1960-1963,  Rocky Colavito comes to mind, saw their careers shortened by this phenomena of  my baseball boyhood.

Indeed, Kaline’s 399 HRs stand as a talisman of the Hall of Very Good(HOVG).(2)

So, how good was Kaline anyway?

Unlike Henry Aaron, Kaline is not an all-time great.  Kaline never scaled the Olympian heights of Frank Robinson or Roger Maris.  While Rocky Colavito wasn’t a high BA guy and not nearly Kaline’s equal in the field Colavito did hit 40+ HRs 3 times(2) while Kaline’s apex was his 29 HRs in his 100 game 1962.(2)

Yin/Yang was a concept I learned of while attending Jr. High Religious Education at North Shore Unitarian Universalist(NSUU) in Plandome, Long Island.

Yin/Yang applies very well to the cosmic baseball duality of Al Kaline and Roberto Clemente.

Roberto Clemente was my brother’s first favorite professional athlete in any sport and indeed may very well still be.

Kaline was great early, then an All Star, and pretty good at the end.

Clemente was pretty good early, then an All Star and great at the end.

Kaline’s greatness came when he had conquered his initial physical challenge and before their chronic nature had worn him down.

Clemente had a variety of woes; among them the after effects of malaria and misaligned back discs.  Clemente’s greatness came during these episodes.

Kaline’s greatness occurred prior to the increase in the size of the strike zone in 1963 and at a time when the American league was significantly less talented than the National League.

Clemente’s greatness came when the strike zone was expanded and the National league was significantly more talented than the American League.

Kaline hit for significantly more power, even though both Kaline and Clemente topped out with 29 HR; with Kaline’s in his 100 game 1962 season and Clemente with 29 in his MVP 1966 season.(2)

Kaline ran well prior to 1963 but was never as fast as Clemente.

Clemente retained his speed and added power as he aged.

Kaline lead AL RFers in Put Outs 5 times, 3 times in Assists , 5 times in Fielding Percentage and won 10 Gold Gloves.(2)

Clemente lead NL Rfers in Put Outs twice, 12 times in Assists; leading all of MLB 5 times, and won 12 Gold Gloves.(2) 

Clemente also lead NL RFers 6 times in errors!(2)

Kaline fielded grounders on 1 knee and flashed his glove to true his throw to the cut-off man.

YouTube(3) video of Kaline show him warming up before the World Series with his old school fundamentals.(3)

YouTube video of Clemente shows a wayward rush to pick up the ball on the move and javelin the ball to the infield.(3)

Mr. Kaline hit 399 HRs and amassed 3007 hits along with 15 All Star nods.(2)

Mr. Clemente had 240 Hrs and amassed 3000 hits along with 12 All Star nods.(2)

Kaline won 1 batting title with his .340 in 1955.(2)

While Clemente won in 1961, 1964, 1965 and 1967.(2)

Kaline was the 12th. player to garner 3000 hits.(1)

Clemente was the 11th. player to garner 3000 hits.(1)

Kaline had a greater career by the virtue of his power and .376 OBP, both of which are greater than Clemente’s .359 OBP.(2)

Clemente’s peak was greater and he played in a significantly better league.

The first winner of the Roberto Clemente Humanitarian Award in 1973 was…Al Kaline!(1)

Al Kaline played with a talented Tiger cast from 1961-1968.  Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, Jim Bunning, Dick McAuliffe, Bill Freehan, Willie Horton, Norm Cash and Rocky Colavito all garnered All Star nods.(2)

Yet, Mr. Kaline won only the 1968 World Series trophy.  As mentioned Mr. Kaline missed a good deal of the 1968 season after having his forearm fractured.

Kaline returned at the end of the season and was playing well as Tiger manager Mayo Smith juggled Jim Northrup. Mickey Stanley and Kaline in a 3-guys-for-2 positions roulette.

With shortstop Ray Oyler having “hit” a lusty .135 Mayo Smith threw the dice and inserted CFer Mickey Stanley at shortstop.

It worked and the Tigers won the only World Series of Kaline’s career.

Kaline hit .379 for the 7 game triumph over the St. Louis Cardinals.(2) 

Mr. Kaline’s singular greatest accomplishment may have been his 2 run go-ahead single off Joe Hoerner in Game 5 held in Tiger Stadium to power Mickey Lolich to the 2nd. of the 3 wins Lolich would notch in the 1968 world Series.(3)

My 6th. Grade teacher Mrs. Mendenhall had been a Phys. Ed. teacher and brought out the TV so that we could watch the World Series which began at 1 P.M.  Mrs. Mendenhall was enough of a fan to let us boys watch until 3:30; even when the school day had ended at 2:45.

The Tigers rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to defeat Bob Gibson in Game 7.  Jim Northrup hit a grand slam in Game 2 and the Game 7 go-ahead hit on a triple that slid past Curt Flood on a rain-slicked field.  Mickey Stanley played O.K. at short.

The 1968 World Series was the fist time I bet on a sporting event.  I had $5 committed in wagers which was quite the princely sum for an 10 year old with a .75  allowance.  Collecting $1 from my 6th. Grade teacher Mrs. Mendenhall and $1 from Mr. Heinz, our Phys Ed. teacher at Flower Hill in Port Washington, Long Island remains one of the most exciting things I have ever experienced and that is true to this very day…

…Mr. Heinz walked out of the back of Flower Hill school into the asphalt “field” formed by the nexus of the Carrie Palmer Weber Junior High School and the football stands for  Paul D. Schreiber High School where I was flinging my rubber-covered hardball against a brick wall emblazoned with handball dimensions and a chalked strike zone

My goal was to be better than the 7th. guy picked for the 4 on 4 “4 ball” self hitting games always springing up on the front lawn of Flower Hill and Weber.  If I could only be picked 6th. then…

“Practice makes perfect,” said Coach Heinz before flashing the tight closed-mouth smile that punctuated all he did.

I shrugged sheepishly, loath to acknowledge the importance of this achievement to a pudgy 10 year old.

“Let me see that again,” he said with a chin nod that preempted any anxiety that performing in front of “Coach” may have produced.

I cranked up and threw as hard as I could achieving considerable velocity only to be crestfallen as I had missed the chalk strike zone by several feet.

Coach Heinz was a nice man who lived to make his students better.

“I see you have an Al Kaline bat.  Kaline throws very well.   Now have your front shoulder at about 1 o-clock,” he said wheeling his shoulders into place.

“Put the ball behind your neck and point your front elbow at the strike zone,” he said, demonstrating as he spoke.  Without any apparent effort the ball flew to the strike zone hitting the brick wall with a profound PLOCK! and 1-hopping to my glove.

“Nice stab, Steve.  So your front shoulder is at 1, the ball is behind your neck, your elbow is pointed at the zone, so just go straight over the top and the ball will go where your elbow points,” he continued.

I began to get the sense that Coach Heinz had done this instructional before so I wheeled my shoulders, pointed my elbow and fired.  The ball was within a foot of the strike zone.

“Pretty good, but I know you can do better,” said Coach with the very same tight lipped smile.

“Now when you grip the ball,” taking the Spalding rubber-covered hardball from my Ray Culp MacGregor glove, “Have your fingers across the seams and that will true the ball.  Take your time, no one is keeping score.”

I nodded hurriedly,  gripped the ball across the seams, wheeled my shoulders, pointed my elbow and fired.

Miraculously the ball hit the strike zone with a resounding PLOCK!

“Good one,” exclaimed Coach.

“Now do it again.”

Muscle memory was a foreign concept to this chubby 10 year old but wanting to be picked better than 7th. was very close to my heart.

I repeated the form and there was another strike!  My heart was racing.

Coach rewarded me with a closed mouth smile once again.

“Hey, is that really your bat?” Coach inquired, spying my bat leaning against the connective hall between Flower Hill and Weber.

“Yes.”

“Ha, an Al KalineAlways one of my favorite players.  He does things right!  Here take the bat, and hold it right by the tape and pinwheel it 25 times.  Then take the bat and twirl it backwards 25 times.  Take a tad off to catch your breath and then repeat 3 more times.  Does this every day and you’re throwing 100 times.  By the summer you should have a strong arm.”

Taking the bat I pinwheeled it 25 times forward and 25 times back. Sweat was bursting from my brow.

I was rewarded with the same closed mouth smile.

“Good form.  Keep practicing,” said Coach Heinz as he began strolling to his car.

I pinwheeled and twirled my Al Kaline bat at every opportunity through the Winter although I never counted what would now be known as “reps”.

I became the 6th. picked in 4-on-4 “4 Ball,” a self-hitting baseball game indigenous to Port Washington.

(I have been tempted to put that achievement on my resume’).

For the 6th. Grade Track and Field Day at Flower Hill I competed in the baseball throw; finishing in 2nd. place; ahead of Ernie Jenkins, and just behind Ted Kramer.

For this Coach Heinz presented me with a blue 2nd Place ribbon.

That blue ribbon remained affixed to my bedroom wall at 42 North Bayles Ave from 1969 to my last day of residence in 1978.

2nd. place in the Flower Hill 6th. Grade Track & Field day is my proudest athletic achievement.

(I have been tempted to put that achievement on my resume’).

Al Kaline made me an athlete.

1972 proved to be the last triumph of Kaline’s career as his 21-41 streak in the last 10 games of the season brought Billy Martin’s Bengals to the AL East title clinching the division with the Woody Fryman vs. Luis Tiant of the Red Sox in the match-up of come-backing veterans, before succumbing to the eventual World Champion Oakland A’s.(2)

I was happy for Al Kaline even as I was embarrassed to indulge in my boyhood enthusiasm for the game I no longer played.

In 1974 my brain was occupied by Joni Mitchell’s COURT AND SPARK LP, the fiction of Kurt Vonnegut, the LAPD novels of Joseph Wambaugh and the North Shore Unitarians’ Senior Seminar Religious Education social circle.

I didn’t follow baseball, as it was “too 6th. Grade.”

Al Kaline retired in 1974; DHing and playing some 1st. 

I never mentioned to anyone that I was sad.

1984 found me in Michigan attending to the details of Dad’s passing.  One redeeming factor was watching George Kell and Al Kaline provide the TV commentary for the “Bless You Boys” 1984 World Series Champion Tigers.(3)

To watch Mr. Kaline’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech is to hear virtues which once seemed corny and almost dishonest, uttered with complete sincerity and evident effect.(3)

There is no other way to put it than other that the white, blue collar players of my youth, reared during WW II, had a certain modest charm that resides only in the memories of those who are nearing or beyond 60.

My current home contains a bedspread of multiple hues of blue that Al Kaline’s passing has brought to mind.  It was on my bed in 269 Lincoln Blvd. where I first collected baseball cards and was gifted with Al Kaline’s bat. 

Al Kaline is exactly at this very minute as much a part of my life in 2020 as he was in 1966, 6th. Grade, 1974 and 1984 in Michigan.

Al Kaline’s spirit calls to me, right now.

Al Kaline is the ultimate Hall of Famer.

SOURCES

1) SABR bio.

2) Baseball-reference.com

3)  YouTube

HAIKU 5*7*5* FACEBOOK “friends.”

January 21, 2020 1 comment

Sometimes a life ends

Digital eternity

Still are FACEBOOK “friends”

BASEBALL: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE OFF SEASON: Wayne Garrett, The Young & Mismanaged. (Or how a constellation of errors revolved around a 3rd. baseman who was too good to be good enough).

November 27, 2019 3 comments

WAYNE GARRETT

would be on my mind if I were were 12 at this time of year.

Indeed, the annual revolving door regarding the Mets 3rd. base situation was a true sign of highlights of the off season as surely as a Joe Namath injury.

At 61 baseball is once again occupying  my mind during this off season.

This has transpired during the 50th, !?!?!, anniversary of the Miracle Mets triumphant ascent to their 1969 World Series victory.

We Mets fans have an affinity, perhaps even a predisposition, to bipolar fandom.  2019 has given us the good; Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and Jake deGrom,  the bad; relievers Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia being worse than the BoSox arson brigade and the ugly 1st. half of  Amed Rosario and the better than O.K.ish 2nd. half of Amed Rosario.

Wayne Garret’s career personifies the essence of the binge and purge nature of the Mets history.

Wayne Garret was one of the Mets of my years’ ages 9 through 20 in Port Washington, Long Island, New York.

Wayne Garrett was not destined for the National Baseball Hall of Fame(NBHOF) and in this case a round-about determinism, deliberate, yet unintentional, prevented him from being the pretty good player that he pretty much usually was.

https://www.baseball-reference.com

Ronald Wayne Garrett was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Braves following his brothers James and Adrian, who played for the Cubs among others in a 163 game career spread over 8 years, in the 6th. round of the very first 1965 amateur draft.  Wayne hailed from Sarasota, FL and attended the high school of the same name.  After 4 years in the Braves system he was selected by the Mets via the Rule V draft for the princely sum of $25,000 in the only minor league transaction of the Mets prior to the 1969 season.

https://sabr.org>bioproject

Biography by Ron Masterson

Wayne Garrett’s rookie year at age 21 found Garrett being the left handed side of a  3rd. base platoon along with the 36 year-old Ed “the Glider” Charles.  Garrett was primarily a 3rd. baseman but also saw some time at 2nd. and shortstop as Mets manager Gil Hodges juggled the Vietnam era National Guard commitments of second sacker Ken Boswell and shortstop Bud Harrelson.

Wayne’s 1/39/.218/.290/.268 slash line hardly excited  anyone, least of all Strat-O-Matic’s Harold Richman, but as a 21 year-old rookie winning a World Series on the the very first winning season in the Mets history one would think that he had dibs on the job.

Wayne hit a HR off the Braves’ Pat Jarvis in Game 3, the NLDS being best-of-5 in 1969, which was the first playoff victory by a Mets team.

One would think…but the Mets didn’t… bringing in Joe Foy from the Kansas City Royals after having been dispatched to expansionville from Boston and putting up a semi-bounce-back season. 

Foy was acquired for Amos Otis and Bob Johnson and was thrust into the starting lineup but was ineffective and developed what would now be called “issues.”

(Otis went on to be the Royals’ CFer for more than a decade but that is another story… which I might tell.  Stay tuned).

Wayne Garrett was back in the starting lineup on a full-time basis after the 1970 All Star break.  In spite of only playing 114 games Wayne exceeded all expectations, including mine, with a 12/45/.254/.390/.421 HR/RBI/BA/OBA/SLG slash line.  Of course, this was a time in which walks were often overlooked but a .390 OBA should have given someone a heads up.  While these numbers didn’t threaten the status of Ron Santo as the N.L’s top 3rd. baseman they are substantial in the light of the Mets team slash line of 120/640/.249/.333/.370.

About this time WOR 9’s Bob Murphy began to regularly refer to Wayne as “the Mets Huck Finn” for his red hair.  Upon visiting Shea to see the Expos, Carl Morton pitched, with my folks and brother Peter I remember looking at Garrett from the box seats my father had bribed an usher $5 for and thinking he looked like a high school kid.  Wayne Garrett was 22 and had taken a huge leap forward to where he looked to be a regular at a position that had been a perennial problem for the Mets.

The Mets had other ideas… none of them very good.  They went out and acquired Brooklyn born Bob Aspromonte from the Houston Astros, the last Brooklyn Dodger to play in the big leagues.  Aspromonte had been an All-Star but his better days were in the past and Garrett was reinserted into the hot corner.

Being jerked around didn’t suit Garrett well; he regressed in power but retained his batting eye.  However the Mets, and most of their fans, focused on Garrett’s low BA and loss of power.  Garrett didn’t seem to be the man for 3B.

In 1972 Jim Fregosi was acquired from the California Angels a a classic ‘highlight of the off season’ trade in exchange for future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and perennial prospect Leroy Stanton.

Fregosi had 6 All Star seasons behind him and about 6 weeks as a Met regular in front of him.  I vividly remember seeing Fregosi’s pot belly cascading over his belt on a Mets WOR-9 telecast and wondering why Fregosi looked to have the physique of one of the guys manning the deli counter at Bohack rather than that of a professional athlete.

Once again Wayne Garrett stepped into the void and while a 5/29/.232/.374/.315 slash line hardly inspired euphoria it was the production of a player with a future rather than that of a player with a past. 

Fregosi was sent on his way early into the 1973 season.

“You Gotta Believe” was the Tug McGraw inspired rallying cry of the 1973 Mets.  And while the 83 win Mets did not scale the Olympian heights of the 1969 Miracle Mets they provided almost as many thrills. 

At 15 years of age I was embarrassed by being a MLB fan.  I was  past the age of where being a Mets fan was cool and my shoulder blade length hair, fondness for Steely Dan and hitchhiking the local bi-ways concealed a heart that still bled orange and blue.

1973 saw a pennant race described by Bill at the Sherwin Williams  store at ‘4 one-legged men in a ass kicking contest’ as the Mets outlasted the Pirates, Cubs and the newly ascendant Expos to weasel out 83 wins.

The Ya Gotta believe Mets featured the highlights of Garrett’s career.

In September Garrett clubbed 6 homers of his 16 round trippers while compiling a  16/58/.256/.348/.403 season which proved to be his career pinnacle.

Garrett also turned 36 double plays, second only to the 39 DPs of the Dodgers Ron Cey.

The playoff against the Reds had Cincy 3rd. sacker Dan Driessen, playing out of his usual 1st base role, tagging the base rather than a hustling Garret speeding into 3rd. on Felix Millan’s sacrifice bunt.  Cleon Jones’ double plated Garrett with what proved to be the winning run as the Mets vaulted to the World Series to face the defending champion A’s,

shock the Reds in the N.L. playoffs and give the A’s all they could handle in the World Series before losing in 7 games.

Garrett contributed 2 home runs in the 1973 World Series with the first coming in the 3rd. inning of Game 2 off Vida Blue.

However, Garret’s homer would be overshadowed by the 10-7 12 inning contest which is best remembered for Oakland A’s owner Charlie O. Finley’s attempt to force A second sacker to claim to be injured following his 2 crucial errors in Game 2.

Game 3 saw Garret tag Catfish Hunter with a 1st. inning from the leadoff slot as the Shea faithful roared their approval and I watched from the Sherwin Williams store.  Unfortunately, the A’s won, 3-2, but once again Garrett had  shone in the October spotlight.

Ultimately, the Mets lost to the A’s in 7 games and there are still Mets fans posting on Ultimate Mets Database that manager Yogi Berra should have started George Stone in Game 6 and saved Seaver for Game 7 but that is another story…

1974 finally gave us Wayne Garrett as a full-time player.  Garrett played in 151 games and posted a 13/53/.224/.337/.337 slash line.  Defensively a Range Factor per 9 of 3.12 was a tad above the N.L. average of 3.04, although the extreme flyball tendencies of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack and Tug McGraw may have forced Garrett’s numbers down a touch.

However, 1974 also gave us Mike Schmidt and Ron Cey maturing into prominent  N.L. third basemen and the slender statistics of Garrett surely looked less than the competent contribution that they were.

1975 saw another retreat on Wayne Garrett’s career trajectory as the Mets had acquired Brooklyn born Joe Torre to man the hot corner.  Torre wound up starting 76 games but his 6/35/.247/.317/.357 resembled that of Garrett’s all too much while demanding that Wayne  fill in as a late inning defensive replacement.

1975 saw a diminishing of my interest in baseball as Steely Dan and shoulder blade length hair had changed my vision.

However, I still perused the NEWSDAY box scores on a daily basis, which I would never admit to my friends at the North Shore Unitarian Universalist congregation, with slack-jawed incomprehension as the Mets diddled away what was left of Garrett’s potential while investing in the 34 year-old Torre…but, of course, Torre was a Brooklyn born name player.

1976 saw a revival of my baseball interest as my long delayed pubescence was near completion and I felt free to return to my boyish passion for baseball.

1976 proved to be the last full season that Garrett spent in Willets Point.  His 4/26/.223/.359/.311 slash line offered some redemption with a more than decent OBA but 58 starts were all that manager Joe Frazier saw fit to offer the now 28 year old Garrett as the “promising” Roy Staiger was the primary player at the hot corner.

In October of 1975 principal owner Joan Payson passed, plunging the Mets into an abyss from 1977 to 1983, although 1976 was an 86 win team. 

The Yankees, under the ownership of George Steinbrenner returned to Yankee Stadium after having spent 1974 and 1975 sharing Shea with the Mets, and with the Jets AND Giants of the NFL in 1974.

1976 also saw the Yankees return to the World Series, and although vanquished by the Reds, the Yanks had claimed the title of “New York’s baseball team.”

Garrett was traded July 21st 1976, along with Del Unser, to the Montreal Expos for Jim Dwyer and Pepe Mangual.

Garrett became a utility infielder in The Great White North, starting 44 games at 2nd. base and only 1 at the hot corner.

1977 saw a further diminishing of Garrett’s role as the Expos had obtained former Philly All-Star Dave Cash for 2nd. base and manager Dick Williams was committed to the potential of Larry Parrish at 3rd.

A sore shoulder and a strained knee ligament contributed to a lack of playing time

By this time I rarely though of Garrett as anything other than ‘a guy who used to play for us’.

Garrett’s trade, oddly enough on the very same July 21st. that sent him to the Expos, to the Cardinals confirmed his utility status even as he hit .333 in 39 games.

Facing professional extinction Wayne Garrett accepted a 2 year contract with the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball.

By the time the 1978 season ended I lived here in Boston and upon reading of Garrett’s plan to play in Japan all I could do was sigh.

“If I could have played well, run, and thrown normally, that would have been different. I went to Japan, took the money, and did as well as I could. I earned my salary there. It wasn’t the same. It was just to make a few bucks. It wasn’t a lot of fun,” he told Maury Allen, After the Miracle: The 1969 Mets Twenty Years Later (London: Franklin Watts, 1989).

https://sabr.org>bioproject

Mets fans still have considerable affection for a Met who played in 2 World Series.  Indeed, fans reminiscences on

https://ultimatemets.com

praise Wayne Garrett as a friendly, approachable man to the many of us for whom the Miracle Mets were one of childhood’s great events.

The 1973 Mets who fell just short of triumph represented the high tide of Garrett’s career and my fond memories of watching the ‘Ya Gotta Believe Mets’ in the Sherwin-Williams paint store on Main Street of Port Washington, N.Y are always highlights of the off season.

A great player?  Hardly.  An All Star…well…he wasn’t; but he certainly made a contribution more than any of the “real” 3rd basemen who the Mets went through like the used hot dog wrappers that swirled above the Shea Stadium field.

Wayne Garrett was too good to be good enough.

Categories: 12 YEARS OLD, 1969, 1973, 70's, AGING, BASEBALL, BLESSINGS, BOB MURPHY, BOYHOOD, BROOKLYN BORN, CALIFORNIA ANGELS, CATFISH HUNTER, CHANGE:, CHARLIE O. FINLEY, CHILDHOOD, CINCINNATTI REDS, COMING OF AGE, CULTURE, Dad, Defeat, Doria Gallanter, FAMILY, FANDOM, FELIX MILLAN, GEORGE STEINBRENNER, HISTORY, HITCHHIKING, JAPAN, JAPANESE BASEBALL, JERRY KOOSMAN, JOAN PAYSON, JON MATLACK, LIFE IS DOING, LINDSAY NELSON, LOVE, LRY, MAURY ALLEN, METAPHORS, Mets, MIRACLE METS, MLB, Mom, MONTREAL EXPOS, NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME, New York City, NOLAN RYAN, NORTH BAYLES AVE. PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., NORTH SHORE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST, North Shore UU, NPB, NY Mets, NY Yankees, OAKLAND A'S, October, OLD AGE, Parents, PORT WASHINGTON, PROFESSIONAL SPORTS, RALPH KINER, sentimental, Shelly Gallanter, SHERWIN WILLIAMS, SPORTS, STEELY DAN, Steven Gallanter, STEVEN GALLANTER, TEENAGE YEARS, TOM SEAVER, TUG MCGRAW, ULTIMATE METS.COM, Uncategorized, UNITARIAN, VIDA BLUE, WISTFUL, WOR-9, WORDPRESS, World Series, YANKEES, YOGI BERRA, YOU GOTTA BELIEVE METS Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

CHANGE: 2019 remix, 10 signs of aging

June 13, 2019 1 comment

1)  You are 427 in dog years.

2)  ‘Great uncle’ is a phase and phrase you are looking forward to.

3)  You see your co-workers glued to their phones and  marvel at the changes in socializing.

4)  You hear your co-workers discussing the sensual appeal of their roommate’s ex-supervisor and marvel at the lack of changes in socializing.

5)  You take pride in walking faster than folks half of one’s own age.

6)  You have worked close to 7400 bar shifts.

7)  You receive a birthday gift about the 1969 Miracle Mets, realizing that the 50 years that have passed make this the equivalent of talking about Babe Ruth…in 1969.

8)  You are not a ‘dog person’ but now wonder if perhaps you have missed out on something.

9)  Japan?  Ireland?  Ghana?  Bucket list destination trips?

10)  You wonder if maybe ‘it’s just me,’ or is it that women over 50 are looking better as of late? 

Hmmm…

HAIKU 5*7*5* HAPPY HALLOWEEN

October 28, 2018 Leave a comment

I was a pre-teen

 

Candy corn caught in my teeth

 

Happy Halloween

CHANGE 2018 remix: 10 signs of age

June 13, 2018 1 comment

1)  You are 420 years of age in dog years.

2)  Hello to Mom and Dad.

3)  First MLB players were younger than oneself,

Then MLB players were younger than oneself,

Now MLB stadiums are younger. (Boston’s own Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field are still older).

4)  You “left home” 40 years ago.

5)  Most of your former employers are out of business.

6)  One’s brain has been re-tooled to digital but the thoughts are still analog and that is a good thing.

7)  One’s threshold of pain has increased significantly in the last few years enabling work and exercise unimaginable 5 years ago.

8)  Deaths of friends who have been friends for 30+ years makes one realize that 30+ years of friendship are highly unlikely among current compatriots.

9)  Lifelong regret regarding M.S. and J.M.  Some things can’t be and shouldn’t be forgiven.

10)  39 years a vegetarian!

 

CHANGE 2017 remix: 10 signs of age

June 14, 2017 1 comment

1)  Your age is 413 in dog years

2)  Bad hair decade

3)  Coffee runs through you faster than Usain Bolt

4)  Your nieces have graduated from college

5)  You’ve lived through disco 5 times

6)  90s’ nostalgia

7) “Lifelong regrets” regarding M.S. and J.M. continue unabated and you know it is your fault

8)  Jacoby Ellsbury’s being on a “day-to-day” reminds oneself that we all are

9)  AARP sending emails and hard copy is surely a sign of something or other

10)  “Well do ya punk…go ahead, make my day…get off my lawn.”

 

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