Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Days of Reckoning: Entry No. '51, Play Ball!

"Little Weasel" ca. July 1951

You see, my old man, "Big Monte", was a Giants fan. He grew up in Harlem in the 20's and 30's.

By the 50's he'd sit on worn-cushioned iron high stools in joints like the Crossroads Bar & Grill and proselytize for Willie Mays as the "Best Ever Ballplayer" to any Dodgers or Yankees fan that dared breathe or hint otherwise. Myself, not far flung from the family tree, was dubbed "Little Monte" or more often "Little Weasel" by red-nosed imbibers like Crazy Mike, Timmy the Mop, Big and Little Milkshakes, the McKenzie Brothers, the O'Connor Boys, the Refugee, and Frank Bastogne. This was because I likewise campaigned for the canonization of No. 24 while I perched on the steaming stoops of the South Bronx or pranced around the teeming schoolyards of my youth.

It took me a long stretch of time to figure out why nobody's opinion ever nudged over so much as a fraction of an iota after one of those thousands, millions maybe, of lengthy and impassioned arguments over who was the best ballplayer, no matter how abundant or overwhelming was your presentation; no matter how glaring were your selected truths. The fact was plainly that Baseball was your religion, your Team was your faith, your Ballyard was your church, and your Hero was your, well you know, your God. Be he Willie, Mickey, or the Duke.

Play Ball!



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