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Friday, September 29, 2006
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Monday, September 25, 2006
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.