Monday, February 28, 2011


Updated In 1958 the New York Giants met the Baltimore Colts for the NFL championship. I was growing up in central New Jersey and everyone I knew was rooting for the Giants. I thought somebody should be rooting for the Colts, so I decided I would. Which is how I became a Baltimore Colts fan. Something of a rebel even then, I suppose.

On another sports front, baseball, and a few years earlier: My father, oddly enough, was not a big sports fan. But the members of my mother's family were fanatics. For them, there was only one baseball team that mattered: the Giants. Which is, I expect, and along the same lines of becoming a Colts fan, how I came to be a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. (Well, I sure as hell wasn't going to root for the Yankees! Sheesh.)

All of which serves by way of introduction to the news that Duke Snider, centerfielder of The Boys of Summer, died yesterday at the age of 84.

My family was not by any means well off, and getting all the way into Brooklyn for a game would have been difficult logistically as well as financially. I got to see Snider play in person just once, at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey and yes it was a regular season game: For each of two seasons, the Dodgers played seven home games there. And damn it, didn't he go 0-3 that night. At least the Dodgers won. (It occurs to me that with all the records baseball keeps, since the Dodgers only played a total of 14 games at Roosevelt Stadium and I know the teams and the final score - the Dodgers beat the Reds, 3-1 - I could probably find out the exact date I was there. I doubt I'll bother.)

I can't say I follow any sports any more, and now when I watch the occasional game (most commonly but not exclusively basketball) I prefer to have no rooting interest, as I find that enables me better to appreciate the good plays and cringe at the bad ones no matter which team it affects, to better focus on how well the game is played rather than on who wins it. Perhaps that's just me.

The point is that while I neither could nor would any longer call myself a Dodger fan - I couldn't name a single person on the current roster - I can still play in my head a clip from I have no idea what game or when, but a clip of Vin (or, as he then used, Vince) Scully going "In comes Snider! Right behind him is Hodges! It's a brand new ball game!"

And y'know what? Grapefruit League games are getting started, the snow here is melting, spring and then summer are coming, and I've decided that this year I'm gonna go see myself some baseball.

Updated due to the fact that my curiosity - about the Web even more than about the date - got the better of me and a search on "Dodgers Redlegs Roosevelt Stadium" easily produced the date of July 12, 1957 as well as proving my memory incorrect: Duke went 0-4, not 0-3.

Oh, and yeah, they were called the Redlegs at the time; it was the 1950s, after all, and being called "the Reds," well, you know.

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