Thursday, May 2, 2019

And I had plenty of them

As a young boy growing up, my favorite baseball team was the New York Yankees.  Why would a left coast boy like the Yankees and not be a San Francisco Giants like most other boys?  I don’t know. 

I did like the Giants too and have fond memories sitting on the floor at my grandmother’s house, in front of the radio, listening to Giants’ baseball games with Lon Simmons and Russ Hodges announcing the play-by-play.  I also remember listening to Armor Hot Dog radio commercials as they were a frequent sponsor during the game’s radio broadcast.  But the Yankees were my favorite young boy team. 

I remember watching the games on Saturday television with Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese calling the play-by-play action.  I can still hear Dizzy Dean talking to Pee Wee Reese with his patented Arkansas-boy style of King’s English baseball talk.  So unique and grammatically-incorrect did Dizzy Dean talk that, apparently, the St. Louis Board of Education tried to yank him off the air and Major League Baseball Commissioner once said that Dear Dizzy’s diction was unfit for a national broadcast.

To this day, 55 years later, I still recall, with a razor-sharp memory, the starting lineup of the New York Yankees, circa early 1960’s.  There was Joe Pepitone at first base, Bobby Richardson at second base, Tony Kubek at short stop and Clete Boyer at third base.  In the outfield was Tom Tresh in left field, Micky Mantle in center field and, my favorite, Roger Maris in right field.

Catching was Elston Howard although an older Yogi Berra still got some behind-the-plate action.  Pitchers included Whitey Ford, Al Downing and Mell Stottlemyre.  There were a few others, but these are the pitchers I remember the most.

During my peak years as a young boy Yankees fan, all these talented players were under the leadership of team manager Ralph Houck, who was preceded by the great Casey Stengel.  I remember seeing old Casey in the background, but his manager days had passed by the time I showed up on the television viewing scene.  Of his many accomplishments, a professional baseball career spanning over half a century is perhaps his greatest claim to fame.

I happen to personally know Casey Stengel’s grand-niece who is keeping Casey Stengel front and center in the baseball nostalgia world.  She’s established the Casey Stengel Baseball Center to showcase her great-uncle’s dream and legacy.

As President of the Casey Stengel Baseball Center, the back of her business card is one of her great-uncle’s many sayings that rings loud and true for most middle-aged men who have lived a good and long life. 

It reads: “There comes a time in every man’s life, and I’ve had plenty of them.”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

No comments: