June 16, 2019

HOLY DAYS (self-reference alert)

Time and America's Pastime: Baseball With My Dad (Jessica Keating, June 15th, 2019, Imaginative Conservative)

Moments before the opening pitch of a Giants-Cardinals doubleheader at the Polo Grounds in the summer of 1934, my dad remembers Jerome "Dizzy" Dean strutting up and down the length of the Giants dugout. The scrappy Cardinals ace taunted the opposition, repeating, "You guys ain't got a chance. Nah, you ain't got a chance today. You know why? 'Cause Dean's pitchin'. Yeah, that's right. Dean's pitchin'.... Dizzy and Daffy." My dad was three. Baseball was in my father's bones before he knew he had bones. And so it is for me because it was for him. Like a treasured family heirloom, baseball has been passed down in our family from one generation to the next.

I arrived in the late-middle innings of my father's life--that long, sleepy stretch between the bottom of the fourth and the top of the seventh. By the time I was two years old, baseball had definitively revealed that I was the family's lone southpaw, much to my grandmother's dismay (and distress). This had been a matter of some debate until, seeing my sister playing whiffle ball with my dad in the front yard, I demanded my turn at bat. My father, our dutiful designated pitcher, called out, "Batter up," as I stepped into the lefthanders batter's box, and struggling to keep the plastic yellow bat over my shoulder.

Through the weaving refrain of stories told at regular intervals on 'high holy days'--Opening Day, the All-Star Game, Pennant races, the World Series, any steamy, sticky summer's day--baseball's poetic elegy was etched onto my heart from an early age. Between stories of the Great Depression, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the early morning paper route, my father regaled us with his baseball stories, told and retold with the same meticulous precision from one season to the next. The archive of treasures, these gems of memory taken out and polished at regular intervals, were in some mysterious way relived in the re-telling.

My early childhood was so steeped in the narrative of baseball that for years I really believed the New York Yankees were a criminal gang and I am still convinced I can remember the Baltimore Orioles' 1983 World Series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. (I was only one-and-a-half.)

Though a Baptist, the Grandfather Judd was semi-Sabbatarian.  He did not work on Sundays and did not indulge in paid entertainments.  Except that...there is a myth-shrouded family story that he went to Game 5 of the 1955 World Series to see his beloved Dodgers beat the criminal Yankees. 

Posted by at June 16, 2019 9:39 AM


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