Monday, March 21, 2005

Tales from the Crypt

Well folks, March Madness is over for me. On to baseball. Blue my boy, before we begin for real, I have a couple more pre-season Tales from the Crypt to share with you. Your Yankee brethren will enjoy this:

I was at the Bucky Dent game. REALLY - NOT KIDDING!

There, I said it... whew.

In mid-September 1978 I went down to Fenway and bought 6 tickets to the tie-breaker. On that day, the Sox were still 5 games behind. So of course it was raining cats and dogs and there was no one in line. I got 6 seats in row 31 behind 1st base. Awesome seats. I was a hero to my dorm buddies, especially my best friend Brandon T, who shared (and still shares) my world's worst case of Sawx Fever. "T-Man" and I bonded on the first day of freshman week - he was wearing a Sox cap and I was wearing a Sox shirt. Guess where we spent freshman week.

It was an incredible see-saw game, but it ended very abruptly. When Yaz came up with two on and two out in the bottom of the 9th, we ran down and stood on top of the Sox dugout, ready to charge onto the field. A single could have done it. And Yaz had already smoked a homer to right off Guidry earlier in the game. Yaz was the clutchest hitter EVER... he had NEVER let us down!! This was THE MOMENT!!

He popped to Nettles (aargh!) on the first pitch, before suspense could build. I smashed my red plastic batting helmet on the railing around the field-level seats. I'll bet that really impressed the chix we brought with us. Fun date!

OK, that's out of my system. But T-Man and I were also at one of the BEST post-season Sox games ever. Fast forward to 1986:

We were beach bums living in Manhattan Beach, Calif. during the ALCS with the Angels. T-Man and I scored tix to Game 5, Sox trailing 3 games to 1. We sat in the FRONT ROW of the upper deck, left-center field. So of course we brought a sign. We spray-painted SOX IN 7 in red on a yellow bedsheet. The letters were 5 feet tall, with a slightly bigger 7.

Of course the Reagan country Nazi security patrol made us take it down in the bottom of the 1st. We had the last laugh as you know, since the Sox DID go on to win in 7, after a 9th inning and THEN a 10th inning comeback on that day.

In the 8th inning, some renegade Sox chix from the upper deck squeezed into our seats with us, and that was all the karma we needed. Baylor and Hendu pulled out a miracle with back-to-back 2-out 9th inning bombs, and then Hendu hit a sac fly to win it in the 10th. Donnie Moore, who was one of the top 2 or 3 closers in the AL, committed suicide after that. Not joking, kids... he really did. He took major abuse from the fans and media and was so despondent that he offed himself. (Why hasn't someone made a movie out of that yet?)

Of course the Sox won the two games in Fenway, then advanced to an even larger-scale choke-a-thon of their own in the '86 Series. Let's not go there today. Instead, let's remember the party we threw at our house that weekend, with the giant SOX IN 7 banner draped across our garage.

For the record, here are some other key Sox events on my resume:

1. Yaz’s 3000th hit game. Went with T-Man. We had to go 5 out of 6 nights before he finally got the hit. The funniest side story is that we couldn't make it to night #5 - but he had an oh-fer AGAIN that night. When he finally got it, it was a very anti-climactic roller under Willie Randolph's glove. We were standing at field level behind home plate screaming like banshees. Obnoxious college kids.
2. Reggie Jackson's 500th homer game. I was in the Big A, in the upper deck again (my home for 4 years), with random buddies from my office.
3. I was at the 1998 Cleveland divisional series dedicing game 4 with my wife, my bro and my nephew Andrew. Andrew scored front-row tix next to the Pesky Pole by hitting redial 9,000 times. Pretty cool even though they lost. Not fun seeing the Indians celebrate on our turf.
4. Was at the Orioles season finale last year, with my wife, T and Mrs. T. Camden Yards was 50% packed with Sox fans to send them off to the playoffs. We watched 2 of the weekend games at the ballpark, and the other two on TV at pubs on the inner harbor.
5. Flew to Boston for the PARADE on Boylston Street, the week after the Series. With Wendy and the T family. It just might be my best in-person Sox memory of all. It rained the whole time and nobody noticed. PAR-TAY!!!! (The downside: with a million people jamming North Station, we missed my nephew Dan's theatrical debut. Major bummer. Yet another unnecessary life lesson in taking the good with the bad.)

Well, Blue, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Which big Yankee games have you been to?
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