With Freddy Sez, Summer 2005 - Photo by Peter "Fishcakes" Uram
Welcome to YankeeDave.
I am a Yankee Fan who lives within walking distance of Fenway Park. Therefore to keep my sanity, I try to spend as much time as possible in the right field bleachers in the Big Ballpark in the Bronx.
From my first Yankee Game in 1961 with my dad, to seeing a game in the 1962, 1963 and 1964 World Series with him to joining the Yankees at the White House after the 1998 World Championship to seeing the Jeter Game in the 2001 World Series with my son. It has been a great ride.
I hope the following piece which I wrote in October 1994, reminds us never to take this game for granted.
The 91st World Series was to have begun today. This year there will be no World Champion and therefore, we are all losers.
Last year we had Kruk and Carter. Nearly twenty years ago it was Yaz, Tiant, and Pudge. This year there is only the memory of a season ending with a Red Sox - Oriole rainout in August, a trip to Fenway to redeem unused game tickets, and Ken Burns' 18 hour epic, Baseball.
Before my dad died 7 years ago and now with my 9 year old son, each baseball season ended with the World Series. Each October I shared my passion for the game with either the one who taught me how to love or the one I hope to teach that joy.
On the morning of October 9, 1962, my dad awakened me with the question every 7 year old boy wants to be asked, "Do you want to go to the World Series today?" With tears running down my face, I asked if he was kidding.
I missed school that day. The two of us drove the 80 miles from Waterbury, CT, to Yankee Stadium in a driving rain hoping it would stop prior to game time. We climbed to the top row in the upper deck in the right field stands and waited and waited. The rain never ceased. Ford Frick, then Commissioner of Baseball, called the game.
I knew I could not return tomorrow. Although my mom loved the game, a second day of hooky was out of the question. Mom never had a chance. Dad looked at me seconds after the game was canceled and said, "David we are coming back tomorrow."
The next day my favorite team, the Yankees, won the 5th game of the Series on a three run homer by Tom Tresh in the eight inning. The ball landed in the right field stands many rows below us. The newspaper carried a picture of rookie Tresh being hugged by his father Mike, a former major league player. My dad hugged me that day too.
As insignificant as baseball may be in the grand affairs of life, that day, my father and baseball were the two most important things in the world. Years later, during the last week of my dad's life, as he lay in bed dying of cancer, we spoke of our hope of seeing a ball game together again. Beyond the childhood years of playing catch, baseball served as a bridge through adolescence, and later, when I became an adult, as familiar and welcome territory for conversations.
My son Lou and I have begun our life long baseball journey. First he learned to throw a baseball on the sidewalk in front of our South End home, then tee-ball and now Little League. This summer his very happy band of 9 year-olds won the Boston Mayor's Cup Tournament. I had tears in my eyes as this generation's "Boys of Summer" celebrated with bear hugs and tumbled onto the ground in one euphoric heap. As I hugged Lou with his trophy in hand, I knew I was hugging my dad again too.
Baseball is not about salary caps, strikes, and product endorsements. It's about an evening at Fenway Park with your child. It's the silent appreciation of a fine defensive play and marveling at a clutch, late inning hit. It's a pennant drive that ends with the two best teams playing for the World Championship.
The owners and the players are trustees of what my dad and I shared and what I now want to share with my son. They have broken faith; they have violated our trust. And, today some child, as well as some proud parent, will miss the opportunity to see his or her first World Series game.
Yankee Dave with the President and the First Lady at the White House
Dave Manzo - A True Yankee - All the Best - Joe Torre