April 15, 2009

KNOWING BASEBALL:

A Devastating Quiet (DOUG GLANVILLE, 4/15/09, NY Times)

To know Harry was to know baseball in all its wonder, grace and frailty. Our plane rides traversing the United States were anchored by Harry’s seat in the back section, where he could always be found weaving a story or two about the 1977 season or Mike Schmidt’s race to home run number 500. His voice mesmerized you behind the lingering smoke from his cigar.

An airplane chartered to a major league baseball team often has a specific seating chart. People cannot just sit anywhere. It depends on seniority, rank, job description, sobriety and maybe even a twist of good luck. The back of the team plane was invariably the den of experience, each seat holding years of wisdom. But it was for the players only, a safe haven where censorship had no place.

Nevertheless, Harry’s seating assignment was no mistake. In a sense, he was one of the players. He was our expression; he conveyed everything we wished we could show about those moments on the field, but that our bravado wouldn’t allow us to show. He intuitively translated every emotion, making it real and accessible to those who were not the ones rounding third on the way to an inside-the-park home run, or spraying champagne after clinching a division title.

But then again, Harry was the people’s voice, connecting everyone to everything in a game he loved unabashedly. For rookies and veterans, for bat boys and the PR department, he always had time — he always had a story to tell to make sure you didn’t forget what a gift it is to live around the game of baseball.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 15, 2009 8:38 PM
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