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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 1 comment

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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

STEVEN GALLANTER: BARTENDER RESUME’

September 12, 2019 Leave a comment

Steven Gallanter

15 Edgerly Rd, Apt. 8

Boston, MA 02115

617-835-2373

stevegallanter@yahoo.com

BARTENDER

Summary of Qualifications

BEVERAGE SKILLS

-Remixologist

-Unsupervised bartender with access to premise

-Uncork wine and champagne with appropriate protocol

-Formulate drink specials

-Tend bar for African, Brazilian, EDM, Eurohaus, Greek, International, Latin, alternative lifestyle, rock, swing, Broadway, Country & Western, disco, karaoke, house, hip-hop, oldies, reggae, R & B, classical and Top 40

FOOD SERVICE SKILLS

-Arm and tray service at bar and tables

-Plating and garnishing

-Inform guests of specials

-Food service with appropriate protocol

GUEST SERVICE SKILLS

-Guest list privileges and table reservations

-Provide guest with stationary and personal care items

-Suggest dining, tourism and entertainment options

-Assist challenged guests

PROMOTIONAL AND MARKETING SKILLS

-Collect contact information for promotional purposes

-Obtain complimentary bar supplies from salespeople

-Decorate premises for seasonal events

-Distribute promotional material to authorized outlets

PLANT, EQUIPMENT AND LEGAL SKILLS

-Troubleshooting of soda, refrigeration and HVAC systems

-Diagnosed need for water filtration system for soda and ice systems

-Reconfigured storage to conform to requirements

-Photographed grounds to successfully appeal violations to Boston Board of Inspectional Services

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

-Aloha, Micros, PosiTouch 6.36 POS systems

CERTIFICATION

-CPR, First Aid and Emergency Oxygen, American Safety & Health Institute, 2015

CERTIFICATION

MA Dept. of Fire Services, Crowd Manager Training, 2018

COMMUNITY

Boston Board of Elections, Warden and Clerk,

2002-2008, 2010-2019

BAR EXPERIENCE

MACHINE

2010-current

DURGIN-PARK

2012

NEWS BOSTON

2008-2009

RED FEZ

2007

EUROPA

2001-2006

FENWAY/ARAMARK

2002

RITZ-CARLTON, ARLINGTON ST.

2001

HAIKU 5*7*5* Autumn

October 5, 2018 1 comment

The leaves are falling

Greenish leaves with brownish tips

Autumn is calling

DEFINITION: Spring in Boston

Spring in Boston is wearing shorts while watching the Bruins.

“Yo, check out my Jams!”

“What’s the score in the Bruins game?”

 

HAIKU 5*7*5* Walk home

September 7, 2017 1 comment

Just don’t have a car

Fifty seven hundred shifts

Walk home from the bar

2:30 A.M. MBTA Service: An idea whose time has come again.

June 27, 2017 1 comment

I propose restoring Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority(MBTA) late night service(LNS) until 2:30 A.M. on Friday, Saturday and the evenings before legal holidays.

  From March of 2014 until March of 2016 the MBTA offered LNS carrying 16,000 riders nightly for its first year before declining to 13,000 riders by February, 2016 (1)

  I propose doubling the late-night subway and grade level train fare to $4.20 from the $2.10 charged on stored value cards.  (Paying by the trip is $2.40)

  This would defray some of the cost of LNS and enable the return of this economically justifiable, convenient and safe means of travel.

  Casual phrases such as ‘world class city’ are often bandied about when Boston is spoken of.  Yet, the last outbound trains from Park St run at 12:54 A.M.

  The benefits of restoring LNS MBTA service would be numerous.

  Hospital and hotel workers work a variety of shifts.  As Boston proper has gentrified many of these working folks cannot afford to live within walking distance of their jobs.

  Furthermore even as taxis have been supplemented by Uber, Lyft and a variety of car services transportation expenses can be a significant part of a working person’s take-home income.

  Even at the UberPool-Boston rate of $6-8, (2), from Massachusetts General Hospital to Harvard and Comm. Ave(s) in Allston this prorates to about $660, $6 x 110 weekend trips=$660 annually for a late-night employee working weekends at $12/hr.  This amounts to about a week’s take-home pay.  Considering the large number of hospital and hotel staff working after 1 A.M. this has a considerable effect upon workers and employers.

Have mercy!

 LNS service would benefit already existing retail outlets.  24 hour super markets such as Star Market at 53 Huntington Ave. and the Star market at 33 Kilmaronock St. would gain a clientele for whom late night grocery shopping is a practical necessity and more economical than a convenience store.

  The LNS which ended in March of 2016 was not the first foray of the MBTA into extended hours.  From 2001 until 2005 the Night Owl service offered bus service until 2:30 A.M.  However, the scattered stops and slow speed worked against the service’s popularity and the Night Owl was attracting a mere 600 riders on Friday, Saturday and nights before legal holidays before being cancelled in 2005.

  The LNS initiated in March of 2014 and cancelled March 18, 2016 carried 16,000 riders by train nightly for its first year before declining to 13,000 riders nightly by February, 2016.

 The cancellation decision was made by a 4-0 unanimous decision of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board on January 25, 2016.  (1)

  Leaving aside the question(s) of whether applying and norming the subsidy cost(s) through the entire day(s) would be a valid statistical method, the MBTA nonetheless claims the net marginal cost of LNS is $14 million annually based on a fare of $2.10 per rider.

  My proposal is to increase the LNS fare to $4.20 and thus halve the net marginal cost.

  Assuming ridership remains the same, and I do know what they say about assume, the net marginal cost would sink to $7 million annually!

  What the MBTA has not acknowledged is that the increased business enabled by the LNS would create taxable income some of which could be earmarked towards reducing the MBTA’s chronic operating deficit.

  Boston is a challenging city to drive in even under optimal conditions.  Dark winter nights make this intrinsic challenge even more treacherous as snow and ice pile up.  This challenge is compounded exponentially when large numbers of folks exiting bars and clubs congregate on the sidewalks and streets.

  From 1993 to 1999 I worked at a variety of venues in the Theater District and witnessed departing guests hanging around the area until 3:30 A.M. while socializing, eating snacks and attempting to hail taxis.  The crowds milling about caused significant litter problems, interrupted traffic and ultimately endangered the safety of those hanging around.

  My current employer takes the provisions of MA Dram Shop Liability as established in 1983, (2), very seriously.

  However, even the best managed established establishments are not immune from “pre-gaming” and drug use by guests that leads to slow exits, littering and dangerous and endangered crowds after closing.

  During the lifespan of LNS from 2014 until its cancellation in 2016 my employer did not have this problem as the last Green Line from Kenmore Square departed outbound at 2;30 A.M. allowing sufficient time for the fifteen-minute walk from my employer to the Kenmore Square MBTA station. 

Management mentioned, on more than 1 occasion, that folks tended to leave in order to catch the last train.

  On February 17, 2017 I asked my Assistant Manager, A.M; about my proposal to restore LNS MBTA by charging a double fare.

S.G: So how has the discontinuation of late-night service affected us?

C.M: It has discouraged travel from our customers in Allston as they can’t afford a cab or even Uber or Lyft.  They would have to leave with folks that they don’t know and a lot of our people just won’t do that.

S.G: What do you think that comes to in dollars?

A.M: About 5-10%.  It’s not nothing over the course of a year.  When did it end anyway?

S.G: March 18th. of last year.

A.M: Close to a year, huh.  You know another thing is that there isn’t the parking around here that there was even a year ago and when the Sox start up again it’s like [the parking] at least $30 and that is tough for kids even though most of them don’t have cars.  We don’t really get the trusties, [students who are completely supported by their parents and have leased cars through the school year], our kids are just looking for a good time.

S.G: Do you think our crowd would pay for a double fare after 12:30 on Friday, Saturday and nights before legal holidays?

A.M:  That would be $4.20, right?

S.G: Yes.

A.M: I would [use the LNS service] if I were in school and lived in Allston.  You would keep the service running until a last departure from Kenmore at 2:30 like before?

S.G: Yes.

A.M: I think that it’s a good idea and would keep some drunks off the road.

  On Saturday, March 11, 2017 I decided to investigate my manager’s assertion regarding the slow departure of guests now that LNS was no longer available.  I left my security post with the permission of my supervisor at 1:45 A.M. as last call was being given.  I observed a dozen guests in front of the building which was surprising considering the 15 F weather.  After clearing the building at 2:30 A.M. I returned to the entrance of the building and found 30 folks smoking, eating pizza and looking for a hook-up.  Folks wandered into the active traffic flow attempting to flag the passenger filled cabs that veered to avoid hitting the remaining revelers.

  Smartphones were frantically employed as folks tried to reach Uber and Lyft but evidently the cold had prevailed over economic opportunity.

  At 2:45 A.M. I left work and there were still 6 guests eating pizza and smoking by the front of the building while discarding the crusts and butts on the sidewalk.

  This scene would not have occurred were the LNS still running.

  “Better safe than sorry,” is more than a cliche’, it is a sound operating principle which would be activated by the renewal of LNS even at double the fare.

  Additionally, lessened consumption of fossil fuel by drivers would have positive environmental effects.

  Enabling employment and entertainment, preserving public safety and environmental sustainability, MBTA LNS at a double fare is an idea whose time has come…again!

ALL ABOARD!

WORKS CITED

1) uberPOOL…Share the ride, split the cost.  Page 1, Web, 6 March, 2017

https://get.uber.com/p/uberpool-Boston

2) Dungca, Nicole.  “MBTA to end late-night service by mid-March.”  Boston Globe, 29 Feb, 2016.  Web. 3 March, 2017

https;//ww.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/02/…late-night-service-end-march…/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 years ago: 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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