Sunday, February 13, 2011

House Cleaning & Baseball Memories

What with working way too much last year, and the Christmas season being nuts for the post office, and then all of my time off recently involving trips somewhere (either short or long), I really have made quite a cluttered mess of my house over the last few months. I have a lot of stuff, so in order to be able to find anything, I have to know exactly where it is. A place for everything, and everything in its place, so to speak. This hasn't been the case lately, and it has bothered me to some degree. I finally have a weekend where I'm not going anywhere; not going to any hockey games, not going to any concerts, nothing involving even leaving the house since getting home from work Saturday afternoon. Aaaaahhhhhh.....

What this means is, I can finally tackle some of the "putting things away" task that I've been sorely neglecting for far too long. For example, in going thru one of many piles of books and papers, I came across all the ticket stubs from my Pacific Northwest vacation that I took with my Mom in March of 2010 (yes, that's nearly a year ago already...I told you it's been far too long since I did this...). Which reminds me, I never wrote THAT trip up on this site...something else to put in the mental rolodex for a future write-up here...

In putting the ticket stubs away in a binder that I have for just such things, I started to look thru the entire binder, which contains ticket stubs from nearly every event I've ever gone to in my life. I'm not talking about movie stubs, but concerts, sporting events, museums, things like that. And all my brain needs is that small piece of paper to trigger a whole series of memories relating to that event. One of the ones that really caught my eye last night was 2 stubs to a New York Mets baseball game from September 18, 1981. It was the second Major League Baseball game I ever went to. I was a couple months past my 10th birthday, and baseball was the biggest thing in my life. That year involved a strike that lasted nearly 2 months, which must have been devastating for me.

The biggest memories those ticket stubs bring up are the weeks of anticipation I had, knowing I was going to an actual game. Even though I lived less than a 10 minute drive from Shea Stadium, going to games just wasn't something my family did. We used to go to my grandmother's house in College Point every Sunday, and on the drive to and from our house in Whitestone, you could see Shea Stadium exactly 2 miles off to the southwest as we drove in the car along 20th Avenue. It seemed like it was an eternity away. I used to wish that Shea Stadium was at the southeast corner of 14th Avenue & 127th Street, because every time we stopped at the light at that 5 corners intersection, it just seemed like the perfect place for the park to be. And then I would be able to experience the sights and smells of the game up close and personal at least once a week. I don't remember exactly when it was official that I would be going to that game in September with my Dad, but I do remember it seemed like FOREVER until that day came...time passes so much more slowly when you're a kid.

The other thing that really struck my mind instantly upon seeing those ticket stubs was the feeling I got when I first walked thru the tunnel out to the field level seating area, and the way I felt when I first was able to lay my eyes on a field of grass that was the greenest green I had ever seen. I'd been watching games on TV for several years at that point already, despite my young age. I was more of a Yankees fan than a Mets fan, but I still rooted for the Mets, and watched every telecast I could. This was back in the days when almost every game would have been on a local non-cable channel (WPIX Channel 11 for the Yankees, and WWOR Channel 9 for the Mets). Those announcers for both teams became like friends for me, seeing as I got to listen to them for endless hours during my childhood years. Phil Rizzuto, Bill White, and Frank Messer for the Yankees, and Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy for the Mets were voices I heard probably more often than my parents when I was growing up.

However, watching games on TV did nothing to prepare me for actually walking into the seating area and seeing the field laid out before me. I'd been playing little league baseball for a while by this time, and hanging out in local parks playing games, so I was used to dirty and dusty fields, which had grass that seemed fine to me. But it paled in comparison to the vast field of lushness that greeted my eyes. I had been to a Yankee game 3 years earlier (my 7th birthday, matter of fact), but that had been a day game. This game had an 8:05PM start time, so seeing the glow of the artificial lights illuminate the pristine playing surface laid out before me was truly breathtaking. Again, picture this thru the eyes of a baseball-enamored 10 year old boy; I'd pretty much gone to heaven.

I don't really remember anything about the game itself, but that's not the point. The memories I do have from that night and the experience in general are ones that I will treasure forever, and no matter what picture I try to find online of Shea Stadium, nothing will compare with the images on the mental projector that are sparked by those 2 ticket stubs.

Thanks, Dad.

Blog Post Soundtrack; Led Zeppelin, Liz Phair, Black Flag, Traditional Japanese, Refused, AC/DC, The Misfits (live covering Black Flag), Fu Manchu, Pearl Jam (live), Paul Simon, ZZ Top, Nirvana, Monty Python, Deftones, Pantera, The Chenical Brothers, Skeleton Key, Helmet, Desert Sessions, Mr. Bungle, Queens Of The Stone Age (live), Primus (live), Eric Burdon & War

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