It was 1957.
I was 6 years old and my dad took me to my first baseball game.
I can still remember walking
up the ramp, with my hand holding his, into the bright sunlight of Fenway
I was awed by the vivid colors. Up to this point, the only baseball games I had seen were on our black and white television. Here was real green grass, red stockings on the Boston players, and the Yankees were wearing blue warm-up jackets.
To this day I cannot smell the scent of freshly mowed lawns without thinking back to that scene from our first base seats in Fenway Park.
This was a big day for my dad.
He was taking his son in to see
the heir apparent to his idol. His idol was the Great DiMaggio and the
rising star was Mickey Mantle. My father always carried a picture of the
Great DiMaggio (as he was fond of calling him) in his wallet.
Whenever the conversation came around to baseball, he would pull out the picture and say...."Now here...is a ballplayer, look at the greatest player...the Great DiMaggio...". My dad could talk for hours on the subject of the Great DiMaggio and look out for anyone who would argue about the Great DiMaggio's position in baseball history. Since we lived close to Boston, there were many heated arguments over the Great DiMaggio vs. Ted Williams.
But today was my day to see Mickey Mantle play.
He was, my hero.
My dad pointed him out to me
proudly. "There...see number 7? That's Mickey Mantle, the best ballplayer
today son", he exclaimed to me.
There was a murmur close by and I vaguely recall some banter back and forth as someone pointed out a player wearing number 9 in red; the hated Ted Williams.
That was when the wallet and photo came out.
Then in the second inning it happened.
Suddenly everyone stood up around me. I remember going from seeing the Yankees on the field to a wall of dark trousers, as men all around were whispering and pointing to a woman taking her seat just two rows in front of us. "Look it's Dorothy Lamour....Miss Lamour!", they said. All I knew was I couldn't see the ballgame anymore. Even my dad was standing.
I pulled at his arm and said, out loud, in my frustration, "Who the HELL is Dorothy Lamour?"
Maybe a little too loud.
A laugh rose from all the men around me and I guess my dad grew red-faced as he pulled me down in my seat. The wall of trousers soon parted and a woman, laughingly appeared and asked my name. I remember more laughing and then the woman asked everyone to be seated so I could see the ballgame. I guess I smiled at her, thinking she wasn't so bad after all.
The Yankees lost the game.
Ted Williams hit two home runs to ruin it for my dad.
But for years, when he told the
story, it was mainly about me, Mickey, and Dorothy Lamour.
Mick & I 2007
The Great DiMaggio
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