Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

I give you, yet again...

May 14, 1972.

A day with an almost magical sound to it.

The second Sunday in a glorious May in a year in which our father would later be in Vietnam, the center of the world for killing and death and war, and something that seemed to be ripping everything in what it meant to be an American all to hell.

Willie Mays is coming to town.  The best ballplayer around.  Charlie Brown's favorite player, to say nothing of ours - the great center fielder for the San Francisco Giants.  And we had tickets for Mother's Day.  A game between us - the Mets - and the San Francisco Giants.  We would get to see Willie Mays!

But then, suddenly, Mays has been traded to the Mets.  And the tickets are for HIS FIRST GAME BACK IN TOWN - to play for the Mets.

Memory tells me that the boxscore the next day indicated that either 34 or 37,000 fans come out to Shea that afternoon.


Staub the grand slam in the first inning.  Mays having drawn a lead-off walk, clapping his hands down the bases, the first to greet Staub when he reached the plate.  (Lead-off?  The man was 41 years old!  And he'd always been, basically, a # 3 hitter.  What was this?) 

4-0 in the first.  Cheering, pandemonium, bedlam.  We were in the Mezzanine at old Shea and saw the ball all the way down the line away from us, just near that old 338 sign in right field.

Somehow - it all ellides - the Giants tie the score.  And it's drizzling, and people are taking out weird thin pieces of orange plastic to put on themselves, crappy horrible ponchos - like thin slices of poncho -

And it's the fifth inning, and Mays is up again.  (Oh my God.  He must have come up one other time.  What in the world did he do then?) 

He lines a pitch to deep left, and it just barely clears the wall, and we are cheering and jumping up and down like crazy.

The rain, I guess, ended things somewhere in there -- though whether the game limped along till the 8th inning like Dad once said (it didn't)*, or the rains came down after 5 and the umps waved the tarp on, and then a long waiting game was played, and the energy seeped out of the stadium, and then finally the game was called - it kinda doesn't really matter, because the game was over, 5 to 4, Mays had hit a home run on Mother's Day to win the game and it all made Mom very happy.

Or wouldn't it be pretty to think so?

* I was wrong.  The rains may have come, but the game was completed.  Perhaps the Davis children were told that the game had ended and whisked out of the ballpark after the fifth inning..?

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