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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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1964 playoff

Posted 07-03-2009 at 01:50 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 03-13-2010 at 04:11 PM by TommyJohn

Excerpt from SOX! A Fan's Memoir by Dick Dopey (Diamond Communications, South Bend, IN. 2006)

My entire neighborhood was abuzz with excitement that weekend when the White Sox tied the Yankees, which would mean a one game playoff for the pennant. I was the envy of every kid on my block when I announced that my mom had scored three tickets for the game, and I would be playing hooky from school in order to attend the game with my mother and four year old brother. Even then, I was superior to all around me and the absolute envy of all my friends, who resented the aura I gave off.

The day of the game dawned bright, clear and crisp. My brother was toddling around our home, bursting with excitement, wearing his Sox cap and pretending to be his favorite player, Dave Nicholson. (He was a wee one back then, so I never had the heart to tease him later in life about this.) I, being smarter, wiser, superior and just plain better-looking than my brother, had settled on Floyd Robinson as my favorite. Of course, in the end both of them would receive the exact same number of Hall of Fame votes-0. Anyway, it would be his first game, and he was filled with a love of life and baseball.

I was overpowered by awe when I walked into Comiskey Park that day. I had been there many times, but never before had there been such excitement in the air. Both teams were warming up. Al Lopez and Yogi Berra were posing for photographers. Media members from New York and Chicago swarmed the field. Red, white and blue bunting was draped over the walls. I felt a tingle of excitement when I looked and saw a sign for the NBC Network set up by the camera well. The whole country is seeing this game! I thought. I immediately looked for the first camera. Even back then I knew I would be a big star and look good on camera.

I saw the Yankees warming up. I felt my pulse quicken. I had seen the Yankees before, but that same thrill always coursed through me no matter how many times I looked at them. These were the Yankees, for God's sake! They were the best team of all time! Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, all together was too much for one kid to handle. Even at the young age of 10, I knew there was something special about them. These were no ordinary mortals, birthed by women and raised from babyhood. These were gods. Yes, gods. Molded and smelted in the raging fires of Mt. Olympus, bequeathed to us by Zeus, King of all Gods, for the purpose of entertaining us mere mortals. (This was, of course, before I was molded, smelted and sent down from Olympus myself to entertain you mere mortals.)

My brother was eagerly seeking out his favorite player, Dave Nicholson.

"Dickie, look! There he is!" He yelled, pointing his little finger toward the batting cage where the Sox outfielder stood. Nicholson swung and missed a batting practice pitch, looking more like Jack Nicholson (one of my best friends, by the way) in the process. I gave a chuckle. My brother begged my mom to let him go down to talk to him.

"No, he's busy, little buddy." My mom replied. "But look, there's Mickey Mantle!" she said excitedly, pointing to where the Mick was warming up. "He's one of the best ever! Go get his autograph!"

My brother didn't have to hear that twice. He bounded excitedly in the direction of Mantle, faster than I could keep up with him. Before I could reach him, he turned around and walked back to us, a confused look on his face. He walked up to my mother.

"Mommy, what does @$%#! mean?" he asked in all innocence.

My mother gasped. "That's a terrible, terrible word! Where did you pick up that word?"

"From Mickey Mantle" my brother replied. "He told me to go @$%#! myself."

My flustered mother scrambled for something to say. "There's Roger Maris" she said, pointing to where the Yankee outfielder stood engaging a few fans. "Go get his autograph. Dickie, go with your brother this time."

I took him by the hand and led him to where Maris was standing. As we got closer, I could catch the conversation going on between him and the fans.

"Maris, you stink!" yelled one.

"You ain't no Babe Ruth!" yelled another.

"Maris, your mother wears combat boots!" yelled a third.

"How much money do you make a year?" Maris snarled at the first, a mad gleam in his eye. "How much money do you make?" He yelled at the second. "How about you?" He yelled, pointing at the third. "I make more money than all of you put together! I'm rich! Do you understand? Rich! How many of you hit 61 home runs?"

"Come on" I told my brother. "We'll talk to him later."

My attention was then caught by a kid with curly, dark hair. He looked to be about 16. He was crying his eyes out.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"They're picking on poor Roger!" He wailed. I could tell from his accent that he was from back east, maybe New York or New Jersey. "Why are they picking on him? He's so oppressed!"

"Oppressed? He's a jerk!" I said back.

"They don't know the true story of poor Roger. Breaking the record, no one wanting him to. All of America was against him. The mean press and mean fans picked on him. One day I'm going to tell Roger's true story."

He paused, then extended his hand. "I'm Billy, by the way."

"I'm Dickie." I replied.

"I'm Jewish." He replied.

We shook hands, and to this day, he is one of my very best friends.

Several minutes later we returned to our section. My mom gave us popcorn she had purchased from a vendor. We settled down in our seats. The buzz in the ballpark was reaching fever pitch. The playoff game between the White Sox and Yankees to decide the 1964 AL Pennant was about to begin.

About the Author: Dick Dopey is now a very famous movie critic/celebrity suck-up (and you're not.) He is a lifelong White Sox fan. The highlight of his life came at the 2000 Academy Awards, when George Clooney clapped him on the shoulder and said "Hiya, Guy!" They remain best friends to this day.
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