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Born Again in Baseball: Part Three: The Comeback

(Originally posted February 13, 2000, reposted to new site December 3, 2008)

WILBB 2000 Offseason LogoIn 1999, corwin and I had been together eight years. Eight years! And now that we’re both in our thirties, we’ve gotten on to a kind of second-childhood kick. (We also took a vacation to Disney World this year.)

I decided that, with our limited funds, we ought to take a vacation to New Jersey, and it was high time he experienced two of the things that were really formative to me as a kid. One, the Jersey Shore (Seaside Heights, specifically) and two, Yankee Stadium.

I went to two games, one with corwin and one without. On Sunday afternoon, I’d gone with my brother and his girlfriend. The Yanks had beat the Mariners that day, but the victory was bittersweet for us, because my parents were supposed to be along with us, also. But my father ended up hospitalized and in the Intensive Care Unit a few days before. (He’s fine now, thanks!) So he was laid up and my mom decided to stay there with him. Ricky Ledee hit an inside the park home run, and Ken Griffey Jr. was held powerless to do anything, really… (gloat, gloat)

But then came the next night. We went with two friends, my best friend from high school, Bonnie, who was on that birthday trip to the stadium all those years ago, and her then-fiance (they’re married now), Aaron. It so happens that Aaron is a huge sports fan and knows the inside scoop on all the players, even the opposing team. It’s Yanks versus Oakland A’s on a beautiful summer evening in New York.

We arrived early, with the traditional fried chicken in our bags, met our friends and found our seats (lower deck, third base side). corwin made an audible gasp as we came through the dark, dank, concrete corridor that leads to the seats and out into the intense green and blue open space that is Yankee Stadium. I said “you think this is cool, let’s go up to the upper deck just to see the view from there!” We did, and then a cop chased us away since that section was empty.

It was the best kind of game, the come from behind victory. We got to see a little bit of everything that game. Controversial umpire calls. Home runs. Double plays. Rookies blossoming. Old hands making their comebacks. History in the making.

On the drive back to my parents house, corwin said, “That was really fun.”

“Yes, dear, it was.”

“No, I mean really, that was incredibly fun.”

“Yeah, I know, that’s why three million people are going to do it this year.”

“No, Really…”

You get the idea. He was hooked.

I had no idea just how hooked, though, until the next day, when we were due to drive back to Boston in the evening. We had some errands to do in North Jersey, sort of near the George Washington Bridge.

As we were getting on the road, around 6pm or so, corwin looked across the Hudson River toward the stadium and said, “You know, we could go to the game.”

But being as the errands we had done included buying a couple hundred dollars worth of furniture and stuff, it didn’t seem wise to leave the car parked in the Bronx.

Then, the road we were on became blocked by a horrendous accident. It took over an hour before the cops began to re-route traffic, and we sat in the car, and sat, and sat…

“You know, we could listen the game on the radio,” said corwin.

We turned to the pre-game show. And then we were happy as clams. In fact, we started to get worried when the traffic broke up. Because we were probably going to drive out of range before the game would end…

So picture this. Halfway through Connecticut hours later, we’re north of New Haven, and the signal starts to go. corwin’s driving.

“I’m going to pull over,” he says.

We pull off the highway into an abandoned factory parking lot. The game goes to the ninth inning.

“I’m getting hungry,” I say.

The game is tied up. Going to extra innings!

We suffer. We get back on the road. We search for a Hartford station. We pull off again. John Sterling’s voice is being eclipsed by static. Suddenly we find a Hartford radio station carrying the game. Off we go again!

At 11:30 pm we pull into the parking lot of the Olympia Diner. The Olympia used to be open 24 hours, but now they are only open until midnight. So it is a good thing that in the bottom of the thirteenth inning (13 innings!), the Yanks were unable to make the hits they needed, and they went down in defeat. And at 11:45 pm, after sitting in the car all the way through the final out, we finally get out and went into the diner.

“I can’t believe they lost,” says corwin, while staring at the menu.

“Yeah, and I want a Sabrett Hot Dog,” I grumble. They’re just not the same if you eat them anywhere else but Yankee Stadium.

The next day I came home from teaching tae kwon do (which I do three night a week) to find corwin in the kitchen, where he was supposed to be making dinner. He had his head in a cabinet, but no food was being prepared. “Look what I did!” he announced.

He had been downloading the RealPlayer G2 to his laptop and then hooking it up to our home stereo system so we could listen to the game live while in the kitchen.

I forgave him not having dinner ready.

And you know what else? Those two friends who came to the game with us? They had the nerve to get married during Game One of the World Series. (Aaron says if he ever gets married again, he promises he’ll check first…) From their wedding, we went on our Disney vacation, and one evening went to the Disney All-Star Sports Cafe to watch Game Three. It was almost like being at a game–they have a live DJ there who plays all the little fight songs and things. Earlier in the day, we had been in a restaurant at Epcot Center where they had crayons on the tble, and I drew the Yankee Top Hat logo on the placemat. I was still carrying that placemat and kept my scorecard on the back of it, with a pen I bought at Disney Wide World of Sports, a ball point pen with a baseball on the end. I don’t know if it was lucky or what, but they won the game. (That was the Chad Curtis home run game.)

And yeah, I can’t wait to go back for another game. And neither can he. And I’ve been jonesing for more baseball ever since, reading the news on the Internet every day. Checking the trades. Reading the STATS INC book over Christmas. corwin’s now reading “The Physics of Baseball.” Yeah, we’re hooked. We’ll probably even see some non-Yankees Red Sox games this year!

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