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First night in Boston, September 19, 1978

February 14, 2017 1 comment

First night in Boston

September 19, 1978

First night in Boston was something that had been foremost in my mind for better than a year.  I had spent the previous 2 days pacing a hole in the living room carpet while debating my leave taking for Boston.

I was enrolled in Northeastern University but the apartment I had secured had been rented out from under me leaving me to hitchhike, again, to Boston to find housing for the upcoming semester.

Boston Common Realty rented me a spacious, albeit dilapidated, studio on Huntington Ave. for $160 a month directly across the street from the N.U. quad.

I hitchhiked back home to Port Washington, N.Y. and packed the trusty foot locker which had seen me through a 12 year-old’s rustic New Hampshire summer camp, 2 summers of sports camp and 4 summers of Massachusetts religious camp, with underwear and the clock radio my parents had bought me for Christmas 1970.  I was undecided as to what else to bring.

As the departure day loomed my feet got cold as I contemplated moving to a city where I had no employment lined up, formidable academic challenges and less than $100 in liquid cash after having a summer camp counselor-in-training position defunded.

I did have a ride from a friend however…if only to the Throgs Neck Bridge.

My friend called.

“Hey Steve, you pussy.  Have you pulled the panties out of your crack?” offered my friend.

“Thanks for the reminder,” I wittily replied.

“Steve, you’ve hitched 200 miles at midnight with $10 in your pocket and you’re afraid of college?  You even said you wanted out of Port; like y’know, yesterday.”

I replied, “Yeah, I know what I said but it just seems that I’ll be moving into a new place without having a job or money.”

My friend was a good guy.

He answered, “You moved into that place on Main St. with only a little more..”

I interrupted and said, “But that was only a few hundred yards away and I moved back at the end of the summer.  This is a much bigger move in more ways than one.”

My friend answered, “I can give you a ride tomorrow but after that I have to get back to work.”

“I will call you tomorrow,” I answered and hung up.

I knew that it was now or never.

I bounced my foot locker down the 13 stairs to the dining room.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

I stuffed my foot locker with shirts and more underwear.

I grabbed my green Army surplus duffle bag from the drying line in the basement and stuffed it with the books and records that I deemed worthy of sustaining me through whatever might transpire in my soon-to-be home.

And then anxiety, as evidenced by my sweating soles, overcame me.

I turned on our 12″ black and white TV to see the reassuring ineptitude of my N.Y. Mets.

Lindsay Nelson’s calm baritone spoke through the speakers, “And the Yankees will be fending off the Brewers tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium as Dick Tidrow and Mike Caldwell face off.”

Being a Mets fan I loathed the Yankees and relished the chance to root against them.

I stepped to our side porch where my brother Peter and his friends were puzzled by my mixed emotions.

“Hey Steve, we can’t miss you if you don’t leave,” offered a friend of my brother Peter.

I now knew I had to leave.

I called my friend.

“What time can you drive me to the Throgs Neck?”

“I work until 6, so around 7.  So you finally made up your mind?” my friend asked in a question that was the answer.

The next day I was packed early and spent the afternoon bemoaning the defunding of my counselor-in-training earnings while taking in the sights of Port Washington’s Main St. and gazing at the apartment I had occupied for 90 days earlier in the summer.

I went to my bedroom and attempted to sleep.

I laid on my back.

I laid on my left side.

I laid on my right side.

I touched myself.

I turned on my clock radio, which I had retrieved from my foot locker and listened to WBLS…

“…Frankie Crocker with the world’s best looking sound…”

…eventually falling into a fitful sleep and awakening on a very warm afternoon.  I putzed around the house before bouncing my foot locker down the 13 stairs of 42 North Bayles Avenue, Port Washington, New York.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

At the bottom of the stairs I opened my foot locker to make sure that my clock radio was wrapped in clothing so as not to be damaged on my trip.

I was too nervous to eat.  7 P.M. loomed and I wrestled in my mind whether to call my friend.  I wanted to push without being pushy.  My brother Peter’s friends came by and toasted me with a bong.

“Aw, you’re not going to go,” said one.

“Wanna bet?” I replied.

It was 7:30, dark, yet still very warm.  I tucked my Sweet-Orr work shirt into my Uncle Sam fatigues.

The phone rang.  It was my friend.

“Sorry I’m late.  Ready to go?”

“Yup,” I stammered as my heart hammered.

In 15 minutes my friend’s red VW squareback pulled up.  I had met my friend while hitchhiking 2 years ago and now that very same vehicle was to be my way out.

My Mom came out of the house and gave me a loaf of banana bread and told me that I could call collect when I made my arrival in Boston.  Mom’s eyes were wet.

My friend dragged my foot locker to the rear of the red VW squareback.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

My friend shifted gears and we were off to the access road leading from the L.I.E. to the Grand Central Parkway.

“…this is Tony Pigg rocking ’til 10 PM tonight…”

“Hey, could change the station?” I asked.

“Please don’t tell me you want to listen to disco again.  Didn’t you get your fill at work?” my friend wondered.

“The Yanks are playing the Brewers and as a Mets fan the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

My friend smiled and dialed in WINS AM as the throaty tones of Frank Messer intoned. “Going for the Brewers tonight is Mike Caldwell who has been a great surprise for the Brewers thus far this year having won 20 games already with the Yankees sending Dick Tidrow to the hill.”

All the windows were open.  Traffic was light as Tuesday night wasn’t a going out night and rush hour was over.

My friend pulled over on the shoulder of the access road.  E.J. Korvettes’ discount department store’s parking lot lights shone across the L.I.E.

I took the foot locker out of the VW squareback.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

“Well, I guess you are really going.  What time do you think your arrival in Boston will be?” my friend asked.

“I dunno…about 3 A.M. I guess.”

“For Christsakes be careful,” my friend offered.

And then, abruptly, “How much money do you have?”

“$37,” I answered.

My friend rolled his eyes and pressed a $20 bill into my hand, gave me a hug, and honked the horn while he drove to the next exit to return to Port Washington.

I put my thumb out being careful to stand under the Grand Central Parkway sign’s lights while glancing towards the Eastbound lane of the L.I.E. in the hope I could see the red VW squareback returning to Port Washington.

No such luck.

I wondered if the Brewers were beating the Yankees.

Up the road was my first night in Boston.

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BASEBALL: Red Sox vs. White Sox 8, Red Sox 6, Post-game wrap-up

June 23, 2016 1 comment

POST-GAME WRAP-UP TOP TEN

1) 75 degrees and 52% humidity is just about perfect.

 

2) Eduardo Rodriguez was one of the few bright spots in last year’s last place debacle and seemed to be on his game but Todd Frazier’s 6th. inning HR put the Chi Sox ahead.

 

3)  David Oritz was thrown out at home by Adam Eaton in the 2nd. inning on a short hit to center by Travis Shaw.  Eaton played the hit well coming in rapidly and throwing accurately to Chi Sox catcher Dioneer Navarro who easily tagged out Big Papi.  As we all know Papi is having an amazing season so far but:

a) He is 40.

b) He is at least 230 lbs.

c) The replay is not recommended for small children unaccompanied by adults.

 3rd. base coach Brian Butterfield made an inexplicable decision to play for 1 run in the 2nd. inning with the Bo Sox down only 1-0 at home.   

 

4)  1 bag of dry roasted peanuts from a vendor =$5.50. 2  Coca-Cola Zero(s) at $5.25 a whack.  I opted for the Coca-Cola Zero rather than Diet Coke for the slightly acidic aftertaste which cleanses the palate.

 

5) $499 for a 1st. base box seat so you can text and take selfies.  Am I the only one who thinks this is just wrong?  Please advise.

 

6)  Former Yankee and PED offender of 2014 Melky Cabrera now sports a beard sans mustache which gives him a vaguely Amish countenance.  Is there an Amish community in the Dominican Republic or is Melky merely attempting to conceal the Shaquille Onealesque double chin sprouting from his 5’10” 210 lb. physique?  You make the call.

 

7) Sandy Leon was picked off 3rd. in the bottom of the 4th where Brian Butterfield directs traffic.  Ortiz is sent, then erased, Leon is picked off…hmmm…

 

8) “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight” was among the cavalcade of music cranked out by the Fenway sound system as is protocol  for all sporting events.  Fortunately,  Josh Kantor’s organ stylings bring back fond boyhood memories of Jane Jacobs at Shea Stadium playing “3 Blind Mice” whenever an umpire’s call was disputed.  The lovely analog tones echo in the grandstand and encourage enough conversation so that folks actually look at the game and each other rather than peering into their phone with earbuds surgically attached. 

 

9)  Peter Gammons bobblehead doll?

 

10)  Koji Uehara served up home runs to Melky Cabrera and Matt Lawrie along with a screaming double hit by Dioneer Navarro before being mercifully relieved by Heath Hembree.  “Relief” is truly the correct word.  Koji is one of my favorites.  Tending bar for the 6th. game of the 2013 World Series while a packed room chanted “Koji, Koji,” is one of my all-time sports memories and you have to love a man who has chosen the 1999 techno mega-hit “Sandstorm” by Darude as his entrance music but…Uehara is 41 and his 88 mph. “fastball” just might not be what it once was.  Just saying…

 

 

 

 

 

HAIKU 5*7*5* Mets

November 3, 2015 Leave a comment

METS

It starts with pollen

Warmest of recent seasons

The Mets have fallen

HAIKU 5*7*5*.Skateboarder texting

Skateboarder sends text

So free feeling, freewheeling

Head to concrete next

SUPER BOWL XLIX: New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24…passing the test

February 11, 2015 1 comment

Q:  Why did the student wear his Seattle Seahawks N.F.L. gear to his test?

A:  Because he wanted to pass.

Thank you, you’ve been a wonderful audience!

 

2014: Seasons Change, NBA & MLB, Light days, Dark days

November 4, 2014 Leave a comment

HELLO EVERYONE!

As November is now in full effect Daylight Savings Time has ended and the dark days are upon us here in Boston.

Ever since I was 10 years old I have associated Halloween, the end of Daylight Savings Time and the end of baseball as a single entity that forms the cusp of daily Autumnal life.

Thus, this blog will be devoted to a roll-call of those changes.

To wit:

Light days: Spring ahead, clocks advance 1 hour

Dark days: Fall back, clocks fall back 1 hour

Light days: Easter celebrates Christ’s Resurrection, birth and solstice

Dark days: Halloween celebrates paganism, death and equinox

Light days body: Losing, thus winning

Dark days body: Gaining, thus losing

Light days seasonal affective disorder(SAD): Lana Del Ray’s “Summertime Sadness,” Martin Gervais remix

Dark days seasonal affective disorder(SAD): Waking up in darkness and coming home from work in darkness.

Light days communication: Calling

Light days communication: Texting

Light days mixed emotions song: “Seasons Change,” Expose’

Dark days mixed emotions: “Hazy Shade of Winter,” by Paul Simon, as performed by The Bangles

Light days metaphorical song: “Spring Affair,” Donna Summer

Dark days metaphorical song: “Frosty the Snowman,” by Gene Autry, as performed by The Ronettes

MLB: Hot Stove league

NBA: Tip-off

MLB: Mets, Red Sox,

NBA: Celtics, Nets

MLB fan style: Fervent fan

NBA fan style: Frustrated jock

MLB logo: Harmon Killebrew

NBA logo: Jerry West

MLB: hatred: N.Y. Yankees

NBA hatred: N.Y. Knicks

Light days international Boston athlete: Koji Uehara, Japanese relief pitcher of the Boston Red Sox

Dark days international Boston athlete: Zdeno Chara, Czechoslovakian, now the Czech Republic, defenseman of the Boston Bruins

Light days: Iced coffee

Dark days: Coffee with Kahlua and DiSarrono Originale

Light days: Rum and Pinot Grigio

Dark days: Irish whiskey and Rioja

Light days: Bicycling

Dark days: Weightlifting

Light days: Popper cargo shorts

Dark days: Columbia down

Light days: College crews row on the Charles

Dark days: Collegiate party animals fall on their butts “skating” on the Frog Pond at the Boston Common

Light days: Boston Red Sox theme song of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”.

Dark days: Boston Celtics theme song of Guns & Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle.”

Light days hipster gear: Needless hats

Dark days hipster gear: Needed hats

Light days: Midterms

Dark days: Finals

Light days: Memorial Day

Dark Days: Black Friday

Light days commercially viable: sunblock goes on sale at CVS on Easter

Dark days commercially viable: Christmas stuff goes on sale at CVS on Halloween

Light days politically incorrect: Merry Christmas!

Dark days politically correct: Happy Holidays!

Light days oldie: Beach Boys’ ENDLESS SUMMER

Dark days oldie: Phil Spector’s A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR YOU

2014 World Series, Royals in 7 BASEBALL, WORLD SERIES

October 20, 2014 Leave a comment

WORLD SERIES 2014

 The Kansas City Royals will win the 2014 World Series.

We have reached the time of year when leaves are falling, leather jackets appear and sugary stuff fills the shelves at CVS.

Sadly, unlike 2013 I am not readying myself for remunerative bar shifts as the Red Sox begin their triumphant path.

However my interest in MLB remains as high as ever and the climb of the Royals has captured my imagination much as the Pirates did in breaking their 21 season losing “slump” in 2013.

Indeed, I have a distinct affection for the men in powder blue as the epic Royals vs. Yankees wars of 1976-78 and 1980 are among my fonder sports memories.

Indeed in my first trip back to the ancestral home of Port Washington I saw the 1978 playoff game in which George Brett hit 3 solo HRs to lead the Royals to…defeat.

Having provided some back story, my prediction is the Royals in 7.  My reasoning:

1)  The Royals have won 8 games in a row.  This is a record since the loathsome wild card format; don’t start me, began in 1995.  There is a very strong correlation between late season dominance and World Series victory.  the Royals demolished the Orioles in 4 straight although it is worth mentioning that the O’s were without 1b Chris Davis who was suspended for amphetamine use.

2)  There is also a very strong relationship between power hitting and winning the World series.  Indeed, the defeats of the 1976-78 Royals by the Yankees is strong evidence as ancient as that legacy is.

In general Moneyball beats Whiteyball.  Batting averages typically decline 10-15% during post-season play so HRs make up a higher % of runs scored.

Neither AT&T, unless you’re Barry Bonds, or Kauffman, formerly Royal Stadium, is an especially good HR park even though the fences were pulled in in K.C. when the field was converted from turf to grass in 1995.

The Royals’ offense is based upon putting the ball in play, doubles and efficiently aggressive base running.  The 2014 Giants are a far cry from the 2003 Giants in their power potential and…

…do not figure to out slug the Royals because…

3)  The K.C. bullpen of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Gregg Holland has been well nigh untouchable as of late with all 3 hurlers having <2.00 ERAs.

(Interestingly enough the Royals do not carry a lefty to lefty dude let alone the 2 that most teams carry in this era of 12 man pitching staffs.  Greg Holland’s tactic of pitching from the extreme 1st base side of the rubber takes away the inside of the plate from lefties.)

It is a virtual certainty that Royals’ skipper Ned Yost will go to the pen as early as the 5th. inning if Jeremy Guthrie, Yordano Ventura or Danny Vargas struggles although James Shields will likely get a longer leash.

The Royals will enjoy the home field advantage in the 2-3-2 format of the World Series courtesy of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s whimsical decision to award the home field advantage to the league that won the All Star Game.

(Why not award the home field advantage to the team with the most regular season wins so as to restore the moral imperative of the regular season?  After all, baseball is a day to day sport).

The Royals will be able to utilize the DH in their home games with Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler getting the call.  Butler’s rotund physique failed to produce its usual 40 doubles and 15 HRs this year and he figures to be of minimal impact in this World series.  The Giants figure to use 4th. outfielder Gregor Blanco.  It is worth mentioning that neither the Royals or the Giants had a player with a .500 slugging percentage this year.  AL teams of recent vintage, the 2013 Red
Sox being a perfect example, have loaded up on lefty bats but the Royals have not done this.  I do not anticipate the Royals or the Giants deriving a significant advantage from DHs.

So…a hot Royals team with a deep bullpen that isn’t likely to be out slugged will win in 7.

So… more than you need to know.

Play Ball!