Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan posted a blog about missing history today. This got me to thinking about the history that I’ve missed (all baseball related). I’m not even that picky about being there in person, as long as I get to witness it live on TV.
I’ve been fotunate enough to witness some great Yankee events: Guidry’s 18 strikeouts against the Angels, the one-game playoff against the Red Sox in ’78, Graig Nettles’ incredible glove work in the ’78 World Series, the pine tar HR, the Jeffry Maier HR, Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter, the ’98 season, the Mr November game in 2001 (I was in The Stadium for that one), just to name a few.
I’ve also missed a few great moments. I have this uncanny knack for missing no-hitters even though I’ve watched 120-150 games per year every year for the last 30 years or so. I missed Dave Righetti’s no-hitter because my parents made me go to a 4th of July BBQ at my cousin’s house (I didn’t want to miss the game since the Yankees were playing the Red Sox – and I really let my parents have it after I found out what I missed). I missed Jim Abbott’s no-hitter (the only Saturday I had to work the entire year). I missed the end of David Wells’ perfect game because I had to help my sister-in-law (I saw the first four innings).. Just to bring it all together, I missed David Cone’s perfect game because the same sister-in-law had a BBQ. To make the Cone situation worse, he was supposed to pitch the day before against the Braves, but Torre pushed his start back a day. Of course, I was at the game against the Braves that day.
There is one thing that I missed that bugs me more than all the others. In October of 1977, I was 8 years old and in the third grade. One day my school went on a class trip to the Newark Museum. That morning when I got to school I felt a sharp pain in my side. I figured it would pass so I got on the bus and went to the museum with my class, but the pain kept coming back. Finally the pain was so bad that I had the teacher call my dad. He came to the museum and picked me up.
Since I was still in pain, he took me to the Emergency Room at the hospital. The doctors ran some tests, hooked up an IV, and checked me into the hospital. I was fed through the IV and ordered not to have any solid food. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this, but I am 100% Italian (mom and dad were literally right off the boat). Italians live for food. Breakfast is the only reason I get up in the morning, and lunch is the only reason I don’t just go back to sleep after I’ve had breakfast. About an hour after they hooked up the IV, I was starving.
I had this really nice nurse who came in and asked me if there was anything I needed. I asked for food. She told me that I was being fed through the IV. I explained that it wasn’t nearly enough. She turned up the drip (I think she doubled it, but I was still a little hungry). I now felt that I had a friend there with whom I had established a good rapport.
That night the Yankees were playing the Dodgers in the World Series. Game six. Most Yankee fans know what happened, but here’s my version: I was really excited about watching the Yankees clinch the World Series. I was watching the game, knowing full well that my parents weren’t there to make me turn off the game and go to sleep. Besides, it wasn’t like I needed to go to school the next day. Reggie Jackson had hit two home runs. In the bottom of the 7th Thurman Munson came up to the plate. Reggie was on deck. Suddenly and inexplicably, my TV turns off. In a panic I started hitting my nurse’s button as if it were the fire button on one of the video games that I wouldn’t get for a few years. The really nice nurse (remember her from the last paragraph?) came sprinting in as if I were dying and asked frantically, “What’s wrong?”
At this point I started screaming at the woman who I had just befriended a few hours earlier. “MY TV WENT OFF!!! I’M WATCHING THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!! THE YANKEES HAVE A CHANCE TO CLINCH TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!! REGGIE ALREADY HIT TWO HOMERS AND HE’S ON DECK!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY TV? WHY DID IT JUST TURN OFF? HOW DO I GET IT BACK ON?” Somehow I managed to get all of those words out of my mouth in less than 5 seconds.
After being relieved that I wasn’t dying or in pain, the nurse tried to explain to me that I was in a pediatric room and they turn the TVs off at eleven. In retrospect, I can’t believe that they even let me watch TV until eleven o’clock at age 8, but her response just sent me into another tirade. “THE YANKEES ARE PLAYING!!!!!!!!!!!! IT’S THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!! REGGIE HAS TWO HOMERS!!!!!!!!!!!! ONLY BABE RUTH HAS HIT 3 IN A WORLD SERIES GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY CAN CLINCH TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Finally, the nurse told me that she would ask the Head Nurse if they could turn my TV back on. I sat and waited anxiously. About half an hour later she came back and told me that there was nothing that she could do. I argued futily for a little while longer, and then went to sleep. The next day I found out what had happened on the news.
The doctors never did find out what was wrong with me. The pain went away and hasn’t been back since. I now feel badly about yelling at my nurse and scaring the heck out of her. They say that time heals all wounds, but almost 32 years later I’m still bitter about missing that HR. My daughter bought me the 1977 World Series on DVD for Christmas this year. I haven’t brought myself to watch it yet, but maybe sharing the experience with her will make me feel better about the whole situation.
I just re-read this story. I think I now know why my friends all refer to me as a “psychotic Yankee fan.”