Monday, September 25, 2006

Ball Boy



When David Good visited Cooperstown, New York and the Baseball Hall of Fame, he happened upon one of my childhood idols. Ever thoughtful David brought back this picture for me. It's David and old time Yankee ballplayer Clete Boyer.

I have a special place in my heart for Clete, who played third base for the Yankees in the sixties.

I told the story in my 2003 book Why Is the Foul Pole Fair? Here is that section, reprinted with the permission of the author - me!

I’ve been to hundreds of professional baseball games over the years. I’ve won door prizes and ballpark quiz contests. Once I won fifty gallons of Shell gasoline by picking the winners of all the major league games on one day. But I have never caught a foul ball. In fact I’ve never even been close to catching one.

I did get a practice ball once but that was just because Clete Boyer was a rookie and didn’t know any better. It was at old Griffith Park in Washington D.C, in 1959. I had moved down to the front row to watch batting practice. In old Griffith Park it was no big deal moving down to the first row. There wasn’t much competition for seats. When Boyer and Andy Carey got through passing the ball, Boyer turned to me, made eye contact and faked tossing me the ball. I put my glove up and he threw it to me.

I still have that ball. It’s dirty and scuffed but it does allow the imagination to run wild. Or at least my 12-year-old imagination to run wild. I used to imagine that Mantle and Berra had passed that ball back and forth, that Whitey Ford had used it to practice his grip, that Bill Skowron had spit on it, that Bobby Richardson and Elston Howard and Tony Kubek and even Casey Stengel had all come in contact with that ball at one time or another. If balls could talk.

2 Comments:

At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DEAR MR, STATEN, IN REGARDS TO YOUR ARTICLE ON MAVIS. I TO, RELATE TO THE PERSON THAT YOU CALL MAVIS. WHEN I READ YOUR ARTICLE, IT BROOUGT BACK MANY SAD MEMORIES. I WAS ALWAYS CLEAN, BUT I DID NOT HAVE THE BEST OF CLOTHES LIKE SOME OF THE WEALTHIER CHILDREN HAD. MY MOTHER WOULD SIT UP ALL NIGHT MAKING US COTTON DRESSES ON AN OLD SEWING MACHINE AND THEY WERE BEAUTIFUL TO ME. SHE WOULD WALK FOR MILES TO WORK JUST TO KEEP A WARM PLACE TO LIVE. WE DID NOT ALWAYS HAVE THE BEST OF FOOD TO EAT, BUT MOM ALWAYS MADE SURE THAT WE HAD HOT SOUP TO EAT OR BEANS AND POTATOES. I THANK MY MOTHER FOR ALL THAT SHE DID,TO RAISE SIX CHILDREN. I CAN REMEMBER CHILDREN (OR BULLY'S) LIKE YOU IN CLASS AT SCHOOL WHO LOOKED DOWN ON POORER CHILDREN AND MADE FUN OF THEM. I REMEMBER WHEN TREAT TIME CAME IN THE AFTERNOON AT SCHOOL, WE WOULD HAVE TO SET AND WATCH THE WEALTHER CHILDREN EAT, BECAUSE WE DID NOT HAVE MONEY TO BUY A TREAT. OH, HOW SAD. WELL, MR STATEN, I AM GLAD THAT YOU ARE NOW SORRY FOR WHAT YOU DID. I NOW HAVE TO WONDERFUL DAUGHTERS AND A WONDERFUL HUSBAND. I THANK GOD THT MY DAUGHTERS DID NOT HAVE TO ENDURE THE PAIN THAT I DID. I AM NOW SIXTY YEARS OLD, AND I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND THE HAVE AND THE HAVE-NOTS OF THE WORLD. I AM NOT BITTER OVER THIS. I HOPE THAT THE TEACHERS WILL HELP THE MAVISES IN SCHOOL AND THAT PARENTS TEACH THEIR CHILDREN NOT TO BE SO CRUEL. I WAS DIAGNOISED WITH A RARE FORM OF CANCER IN 2001, AND BY GOD'S WILL, I AM CANCER FREE. I APPRECIATE LIFE MORE NOW. WELL, LIFE GOES ON AND YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE BST OF EACH DAY! SINCERELY S.J.

 
At 3:24 PM, Blogger Vince Staten said...

I want to correct a misperception about the real Mavis. She was not from a poor or disadvantaged family. Some may have gotten that idea because I said she wore unfashionable clothes and had a bad haircut. It was not a class thing. It might have been with other Mavises of the world but it wasn't with the Mavis in my class. She was middle class like the rest of us. We weren't well-off. When I was in grade school, my father was a salesman at Penney's.

 

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