Memorial Day Weekend
My dad, “Ten-Cent” Harry and Gib “The Mutilator” took me and two of my brothers and two of the Mutilator’s boys to our first Twins game at Metropolitan Stadium way back in 1961. “Ten Cent”, who’d acquired his nickname by always betting ten cents whether he had a good poker hand or not, was one of my many uncles and “The Mutilator” was one of my dad’s WWII Army cronies. He’d gotten his nickname because of his penchant for mutilating the English language.
The eight of us packed into the Mutilator’s 2-door Ford and made the two-hour drive to the Met, us young’uns bouncing around like pinballs in the back seat, seat belts hadn’t been invented yet, repeatedly smacking our baseball gloves and loudly arguing over which of us would be the first to snag a homerun ball.
The Mutilator was lucky he’d served in the artillery because that made him a little hard of hearing so he wasn’t bothered by the backseat noise. Ten Cent, a railroad man accustomed to hearing that lonesome whistle blow, was also a little short on decibels, but the Old Man… well, he’d been wounded at the Bulge coming to rescue the 101st Airborne and though he’d heard plenty of explosions directed at him during the war there was nothing wrong with his hearing. He could hear a kid coughing up a flight of stairs, down a hallway and through a closed bedroom door. I could tell the commotion from the backseat was making the Old Man edgy but he never told us to quiet down and behave as he normally would have.
We somehow made it to the stadium without any kid getting gagged, tied down or chucked out the window.
We had left field bleacher seats, and the cost for those had been hard enough for my dad to swing as he had seven mouths to feed on a mailman’s salary, but I took off after a couple of innings along with my shadow, the Great Goose, a year younger than me. We were playing the White Sox and I wanted to see my two favorite infielders, Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio, as up close as I could get and the view wasn’t that great midway up in the left field bleachers. I played shortstop, like Aparicio, and used a Nellie Fox bat so these guys were like my baseball heroes and I at least wanted to see their faces. So we took off to get a better view of the infield and wound up sitting right behind home plate for an inning or two until the ushers asked to see our tickets. Being small town boys we thought an empty seat was just something waiting to be occupied. Couldn’t understand why the ushers wanted to keep those empty seats empty.
Somewhat chastened, my brother and I drifted back to the left field bleachers to sit with our dad, just in time to see Bob Allison (might have been Jim Lemon) put a ball into the seats just a few rows short of where we were sitting. None of us got the ball.
Never forgot that day. And it wasn’t until I was a father myself and took my son to his first Twins game that I suddenly gained an appreciation for what my dad had put up with just to get his boys to a professional baseball game.
That’s what I remember on Memorial Day. And that’s one of the reasons why I love baseball.
Today’s Pitching Matchup
For the Twins: Jake “The Skunk” Odorizzi 6-2 ERA 2.38 52 K will be trying to add to his shutout innings streak.
For the Sox: Dylan “The Dead Man” Covey 0-3 5.31 ERA 7 K will be trying not to cough up a half dozen homers to the homerun happy Twins.