Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Mantle Piece

Yesterday afternoon I was out of the office - a bit unexpectedly - as one of the other defendants in a case I have a client in called me to tell me that he and his liability expert wanted to have a chance to scope out the place where the plaintiff (a/k/a "the bad guy") fell. Just kidding, of course, about the whole "bad guy" tag. I love plaintiffs. I went to law school to stay away from math (and because I thought knowing a bit about the law might be handy after some of the shit the fellas and I pulled in college - Mom, I am far as you know) but even I know enough arithmetic to recognize the significance of this equation: no plaintiffs = no defendants = no work for Adam = no mortgage payments = no roof over head.

I am too old and too set in my ways to embrace the nobility of poverty (being decidedly middle class suits me fine thanks for asking) and cardboard boxes neither keep one dry on a rainy day, nor cool on a hot day nor warm on a cold day. Do not take my word for it. Next spring, go to your local appliance store (I recommend PC Richards) purchase a window air conditioner. Upon bringing it home, unpack it from its box, throw the air conditioner out, put the box in your bedroom window and let me know how cool it keeps you. So cool that you will not even notice the bug bites? I wager not.

While I was out driving to/from my meeting at the site of the plaintiff's accident (a/k/a "property my client owns") with my co-defendant and his expert I listened to Mike Francesca on WFAN. In case you could not discern from its clever call letters, WFAN is an all-sports in New York City and Francesca is their host in afternoon drive. I know not whether he has been there since the station started but I remember being a 22 y/o kid just out of college and listening to Francesca and his then-partner Chris Russo on rides home from Manhattan when I was working for Kelly. I have not been 22 (physically anyway) in quite some time so while I have changed addresses, jobs, professions and marital status since then, Francesca continues plugging away doing what he is doing.

I am the youngest of six children - three of whom are sons. My oldest sibling is my brother Bill. My oldest sister Evan is the creme filling in the sibling Oreo between Bill and Kelly, who is both child #3 and brother #2 (and who really hopes to do well when the first BCS poll is released for the 2010 season). All three of the Kenny sons are baseball fans. Actually I think all six of the Kenny sibs are baseball fans. Not surprising considering how passionately Dad followed the game and Mom still does.

While I am terrible with keeping track of my siblings' ages - I know they are all older than I am (I am taller than at least some of them and I do not know any of their heights either) -I believe that Bill began his life here on Earth shortly after Mickey Mantle began his career in pinstripes. I think (although I am not sure) that since Bill graduated from college two years before Kelly graduated from high school, there is roughly six or seven years between them. Presuming my math is close to right (and somewhere the late great Gladys Katrausky smiles at that thought as she calculates the odds of it being correct) Kelly would have been making his first rotation around the sun shortly before the second M Boy arrived from Kansas City to join Mantle in the Yankees lineup. Me? I did not get here until the winter of 1967. By the time I had arrived, all that was left for the Mick were a couple of seasons in which he hit poorly enough that it reduced his career average to .298.

I was thinking about my two brothers yesterday afternoon as Francesca spent more than an hour speaking with author Jane Leavy. Leavy's new book is a biography of Mickey Mantle. The book is entitled, "The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood". The reviews of the book that I glanced at after hearing her on air with Francesca are universally raves. Francesca gushed about it both while she was his on-air guest and after she had left the studio. Her stories, detailing information she had researched about Mantle the player and Mantle the man, were utterly fascinating.

And more than one of Leavy's stories was sad. She told the stories of a man who was incomparably gifted, immeasurably popular and eternally tortured. I was too young to see him play and have only ever seen highlights of him in action. If I remember to check out MLB Network for when it will be aired, then perhaps I will watch Mantle and his teammates in action in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates - courtesy of Bing Crosby's wine cellar.

I have never asked either Bill or Kelly if either was a Mickey Mantle fan. Given their life-long allegiance to the Yankees I suppose that I should know the answer to that question. I also never learned what Dad's feelings were on Mantle. I suppose given his status as a lifelong New York Giants fan I know where he came down on the question of Mays vs. Mantle but I do not know whether Dad had enough room in his baseball-rooting heart to root for Mantle's success as well.

There is more than a little part of me that believes that all of us Kenny men rooted hard for Mantle, both the player and the man. Kindred spirits - to a degree at least.

Maybe he was not the last boy after all. Maybe there is a bit of that boy in all of us. Deep down in that part of our soul where childhood never ceases to live.


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