Friday, February 28, 2014

True Grit

One of the things I have learned in close to six years of doing this everyday is that try as I might I cannot silence the screaming voices in my head all of the time.  More importantly though I have learned that there are literally countless people out there on this planet doing things that are truly remarkable.  They are everywhere.  And they come in all shapes and sizes.

Shortly before Christmas 2013, I was introduced courtesy of a story on the CBS Evening News to an extraordinary little old woman named Clara Gantt.  Her husband, Joe, had been declared missing in action and presumed killed in action in the Korean War sixty-one years-plus ago.  For almost all of that time she had never given up hope of him returning home to her.  Home to their little house in southern California. 

Joseph Gantt's remains were finally identified in the Fall of 2013.  When he arrived home - at LAX - in the early morning hours of December 20, 2013, his Clara was there to greet him.  There was no impassioned embrace, of course, as he stepped down from the plane and onto the tarmac.  There was just a flag-draped coffin and a tiny woman - in her mid-90's - rising up out of her wheelchair to welcome her long-overdue husband home. 

An extraordinary woman and a truly extraordinary story.  A story of true love.  A story of true grit. 

The story of Clara Gantt....


-AK 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Proof That Not All Men Are Created Equal

One of my favorite people on the planet (talk about a contest no one in their right mind voluntarily enters let alone tries very hard to win, right?) is Dave Lackland.  I had the great pleasure of befriending him when we were both much younger men, back in our "W-H" days.  We have fallen out of touch for decades.  Thankfully, the evil invention that is social media permitted us to reconnect. 

Dave on his worst day is ten times a better man than I am on my best day.  He even emits more than a little bit of a Dr. Doolittle vibe for his ability to interact with - and his great love for - all creatures great and small. 

A few years back, I wrote about Dave and his extraordinary friend Carl and what the former did to save the life of the latter after one or more of the human persuasion attempted to extinguish Carl - he of the iguana persuasion.  Ultimately, the tale of Dave and Carl did not have a happy ending.  Roughly a year and a half after I wrote the piece that is linked to below, the same asshole humans who had tried to exterminate Carl in 2011 tried again.  Sadly, this time they succeeded. 

Their malfeasance not only does nothing to take away from what a remarkable man my friend Dave Lackland is, it actually reinforces the point quite well.  It serves to remind us - well me at least - that as long as the world contains humans like Dave - we will have what we need to keep the assholes at bay....


-AK

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hail To A Hero

Occasionally, something appears here that has a deep and meaningful effect on someone.  On the rare occasion that occurs, it is not the quality of the writing that creates the impact - I assure you.  Rather it is the person or the topic that is the subject of the piece.  What appears here serves as nothing more or less than a vehicle through which others can interact with one another. 

That was the case back in August, 2010 when I wrote one day about the tragic death of a thirty-year-old Westfield New Jersey firefighter, James Pfeiffer, Jr.  He was, by all accounts, a simply outstanding human being, loved by all who knew him.  I never had the pleasure of meeting the man. 

I certainly wish I had....


-AK

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hearts and Strings

The death of my mother-in-law, Suzanne Bozzomo, was as cataclysmic an event as any to which I have ever borne witness.  Margaret's mom was very much the emotional center of the Bozzomo family and her passing, at the end of a five-plus year epic struggle against the insidious cancer that ate her alive was both inspiring and heartwrenching.  

I despise things over which I have no control and even more so those things that I cannot fix.  I could not do anything to fix what happened in the very early hours of the morning on June 2, 2009.   Not a single goddamn thing.

My anger and my frustration over not being able to fix this for Margaret and my own sense of loss conspired to produce this, which I wrote hours after her death and hours before I had to drive to Newark Airport to pick up my son - who flew home from Wyoming for the very sad business of burying his Nona....


-AK  

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Thundering Sound of Footsteps

Running is an activity that I presently pursue with some vigor.  It is an activity that I wish - for any number of reasons - I had taken up in earnest far sooner than I did, which was slightly less than five years ago.  One of the reasons why I wish I had allowed the running bug to bite me earlier than it did is that had it done so I would have participated in significantly more Tunnel to Towers runs than the four that I have completed to date.

Tunnel to Towers Sunday is the final Sunday in September in New York City.  The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is closed to vehicle traffic so that thousands of runners and walkers can use it to cross from Brooklyn into Lower Manhattan.  It is an homage to the courage of FDNY member Steven Siller, his 342 brothers-in-arms, all of the members of the NYPD and the PAPD and the "civilians" who were murdered at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.  It is a labor of love of the Siller Family.  An extraordinary group of human beings to be sure.  They have transformed something of abject horror - the murder of a loved one - into something beyond spectacular in creating a foundation that does simply amazing things. 

Each year, Tunnel to Towers Sunday is memorable in its own unique way.  In 2012 one of the things that made it so for me was meeting a gentleman named Chris Fay.  Here is a little bit of his story and a glimpse into the day that was Tunnel to Towers Sunday 2012....


-AK

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Way To The Great Hiatus

For the next several days, I am going to be somewhere in which I have rather limited computer access.  As such, rather than trying to figure out the logistics of how to make the oh-so-pithy observations for which I have not now and shall never become famous, I am simply going to direct those who stop by this space to something that has previously appeared here for your reading pleasure. 

Please know that, as always, I use the word pleasure guardedly and that the Einstein Estate has given me permission to bend Uncle Albert's Theory of Relativity to its allowable limits by employing the word "pleasure" here.  There shall be a link below that shall take you from this day to that day and permit you to read now what I wrote then.  FYI - Just imagine how f*cked up my thought processes would be if marijuana could be legally purchased here in the State of Concrete Gardens.  

This exercise has served to quiet - more often than not anyway - the voices in my head for close to six years now.  In understanding how I got here, you might find it interesting to get the skinny on how it all began.  Without further ado, a look back to Day One....


-AK

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Time of Man

Time itself is Long,
Even if the Time of Man
Is Short.
- Pete Hamill

Programming note:  Starting tomorrow and continuing through next Saturday - March 1st - there will be no link to this silliness on either Facebook or Twitter.  In the event that you are one of the nice folks who spends a moment or two of your day here daily, then you need to do two things.  First and foremost, start reassessing your decision-making process.  Second, make a note to yourself to access this space through this link:  http://mindracinginthestreet.blogspot.com/

The wonderful thing about having an empty head unencumbered by important thoughts is that I have much more time than most to reflect upon things of utter silliness and banality.  It not only gives me wonderful insight into what it must be to be a Kardashian - minus the requisite cosmetic surgery.  

Tuesday late afternoon/early evening I was heading home from an afternoon spent at a mediation.  Happiness is a productive mediation, which this one was.  While it took a fair amount of cajoling and arm-twisting all around our mediator Daniel Mecca - one of my favorite members of the Judiciary when he was the Presiding Judge in Bergen County - forged a resolution that was equally unpleasant for all sides.  In other words, he forged an ideal compromise.  As I motored home from Judge Mecca's office I was listening to Mike Francesca's radio show on WFAN.  A promotional spot played reminder listeners that effective this season WFAN (both AM and FM) shall serve as the radio home for the New York Yankees.  The spot made reference to this season being the final one for Derek Jeter and implored the audience not to miss a single pitch.

What struck me - and what I had not considered for even a single second prior to that very moment until I heard his voice played in the spot - was that Jeter's final at-bat at the Stadium, which might very well take place during the final home game against the Baltimore Orioles on September 25, shall mark the end of two eras.  Bob Sheppard spent more than a half century as the P.A. Announcer at Yankee Stadium, starting his career with the ballclub in 1951.  Illness forced Sheppard from the booth after the 2007 season and he died, at age 99, in July 2010.  However, even though he was not behind the microphone from Opening Day 2008 his voice has still been heard at the Stadium in the years since.  Jeter, because of his own reverence for Sheppard and his recognition of Sheppard's place in Yankees history, has been introduced for every home at-bat since Sheppard retired by Sheppard's recorded voice.  




Neither Sheppard's retirement nor his death silenced his voice.  Jeter's retirement shall.  It may speak volumes to the advanced degree of my own mental illness that upon arriving at that realization while driving south on the Garden State Parkway on Tuesday evening, I felt of wave of genuine sadness wash over me.  If so, then so be it....

....I stand guilty as charged.  And unashamedly so. 

-AK      

Friday, February 21, 2014

They Call Me Elmer

Tuesday morning - as I motored north on Route 287 in the pre-dawn darkness accompanied by yet another snow event - I bagged my first deer of the season.  My weapon of choice was neither a gun nor a crossbow.  It was a Volvo. 



Not being much of a big-game sportsman I do not know too much about the deer I bagged.  Truth be told, I know not even that I killed him or her.  I know simply that for reasons that shall remain forever a mystery to me, at approximately 4:40 A.M. in the general area of Exit 26, I came to understand firsthand that deer cross the road for the same reason as their friend the chicken.  Unfortunately for me, my car came between my four-legged companion and the other side.  Doubly unfortunate for me, no one bothered to show my personal Bambi an alternate route.  Where the f*ck were the Governor's men with a lane closure or two when I needed one? 

I know not what happened to the deer after our brief encounter.  It was dark and considering that where we met was the middle lane of three lanes of northbound traffic on Route 287 I did not get out of my car to check on him.  I glided off to the shoulder adjacent to the right lane and upon determining that my car, while not looking particularly beautiful, was able to be driven I got back into it and drove to work.



My favorite thing about my car - apart from its obvious ability to win a wrestling match with a fairly sizable woodland creature - is what I perceive to be the Swedish gift for understated humor.  When something atypical happens to the car, a message flashes on a very easy-to-read display on the console.  Tuesday morning, post-encounter, the message that flashed was "Low Wattage Bulb", which I presume appeared in response to the fact that once the deer introduced itself to my car, my front right headlight ceased to exist.  I suppose that the Swedes - in spite of their engineering prowess - never thought to program the car to flash what would have been a far more appropriate and - daresay - factually accurate message:  BULB IN DEER'S ASS. 

Maybe on the 2015 models they will rectify that omission.

I now have a far better understanding as to why Elmer Fudd spent his entire life hunting rabbits instead of deer.  Much easier on one's insurance rates.  Much, much easier.


....That's All Folks! 

-AK    

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Last In The Series....

Good character is not formed in a week or a month.
It is created, little by little, day by day.
Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop
Good character.
- Heraclitus

Today is "Mixed Emotion Thursday" at the Firm.  One of the genuinely good souls who roams our hallways is bidding us a well-earned farewell at day's end.  June is more than a member of the WL family.  She is an institution at our institution.  A human being of such unbelievable quality of character that one suspects she might have served as Rockwell's muse in his quest to capture the goodness of America. 

In a manner evoking comparisons that are flattering to them more than to her, June is waking up the echoes of Michael Jordan, Sugar Ray Leonard and Jay Leno - to name a few - in this, her latest retirement.  She had hung up her impressive set of legal secretarial skills several years ago but had told the Firm on her way out the door, "If you ever need me for anything, do not hesistate to call."  We did.  And although she had eased into full-time doting Grandma mode, she answered. 

I take her at her word when she says that this time around retirement means forever.  She and her husband Jerry certainly have more than enough to keep themselves fully and pleasantly engaged with their two sons and the small cadre of remarkably impressive grandchildren over which they presently preside.  Her ride into the sunset is one that is most assuredly well-earned.  When she exits the premises today, we shall spend far more time and energy addressing how to address her absence from our day-to-day then she shall concerning herself how to address our absence from hers. 

Wherever her life's journey takes her, I hope that it is a smooth one.  And an immensely enjoyable one.  She deserves nothing less. 

Fare thee well June. 

Adh mor ort....


-AK 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Joy of Sport

It is easy to forget - in this era of multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts, unfettered player movement through free agency, mega-endorsement deals and reports of special investigators into seemingly perverse locker room practices - that once upon a lifetime ago every man and woman who earns his or her living as a professional athlete participated in sports for nothing more or less than the love of the game.  For a lot of them, especially those born and raised in the United States, there was a time when their teammates were also their high school classmates.  A time when the people against whom they competed and the people with whom they competed were mere mortals. People like me and - unless I miss my guess entirely - people like you too. 

This past weekend, here in the State of Concrete Gardens we completed the team portion of the high school wrestling season.  Beginning this weekend, in gymnasiums all across New Jersey, wrestlers will begin what each hopes is an arduous, three-week journey to the podium in Atlantic City and the individual state championships.  On Sunday, however, the best teams in the state locked horns in Toms River in order to crown four Public champions - schools separated by size from Group I (smallest) to Group IV (largest) - and two Non-Public champions - also separated by size into Group A and Group B. 

The battle for supremacy in Group IV came down to a match between two of the most highly-regarded scholastic programs in New Jersey:  Southern High School and Phillipsburg High School.  Southern entered the final match as the #6 ranked team in New Jersey whereas the Stateliners of PBurg came in ranked #7 and trying to put the finishing touches on an undefeated season.  

A lifetime ago - when I wrestled (briefly and unsuccesfully) for one season at W-H - each match started at the lowest weight and proceeded thereafter through to the heavyweights.  At some point between my exit from the mat and my taking up residence in the bleachers at Middlesex High School to watch the Brothers Bozzomo pin their way to multiple trips to Atlantic City, including Joe's 6th place finish at 189 pounds his senior year, the rules of engagement were changed.  Now as I understand the coaches draw to determine the weight at which the match is to begin and the fourteen weight classes are then contested with that weight as the starting point.  

Sunday afternoon in Toms River, the Southern/Phillipsburg match started at 126 pounds.  That meant that the 285 pound match - what I think used to be the heavyweight class when I wrestled in high school - would be the eleventh match contested.  At the time the two kids who would wrestle for their respective teams took the mat for the 285 pound match, PBurg was ahead of Southern by a 22-15 margin.  

Southern sent out Jesse Bauta, who entered Sunday's Group IV final with a record of 19-2.  Phillipsburg sent out freshman Robert Melise.  Melise had to drink a gallon of water pre-match simply to weigh enough to be permitted to compete in the 285-pound weight class.  Coming into Sunday's final, Melise sported a career record of 2-4.  Both of his victories had come by forfeit.  In a use of language that I find wonderful - especially his use of understatement - James Kratch on www.nj.com wrote, "Melise was a significant underdog against Bauta".  What he left unsaid was in comparison to another underdog of historical significance, Melise made David appear to have been packing a flamethrower and not a slingshot for his big set-to with Goliath. 

And sport being sport, young Robert Melise sprung the unlikeliest of upsets.  A bit more than three-quarters of the way through the second of three periods - and trailing 6 to 3 - Melise reversed Bauta, put him on his back and pinned him.  His pin earned his team six points and staked it to a sizable 28-15 lead.  One match later, the Stateliners clinched their State Championship.  

Post-match the young conqueror told Kratch, "I hit it and said, 'Wow, it actually kind of worked,' and then I hear the pin and I said, 'Now that really worked.' When I got up, so many thoughts were buzzing through my mind. I did not realize I had won that match. I was in such a state of shock.”  The link to James Kratch's piece and the video of Melise's moment for the ages is here:  http://highschoolsports.nj.com/news/article/-6793256088495334217/wrestling-state-championships-freshman-robert-melise-the-unlikely-hero-as-phillipsburg-beats-southern-for-group-4-title/#/0.  It is well worth both a read and a listen.  

Whether this achievement represents the high-water mark of Robert Melise's athletic career I would not pretend to know.  You know what?  It matters not.  For whether the triumph he earned this past Sunday is merely the first step on a journey to greatness or the only step he ever takes on that journey, neither outcome will take away at all from what he did. 

The joy of sport is in its moments.  And in the biggest sporting moment of his young life, Robert Melise did something truly memorable.  You can live a significantly longer life than he has thus far and never have such a moment.  He owns one.  No one and nothing shall ever take it away from him.  

Well done, young man.  Well done indeed. 

-AK   

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Not Quite The Real Thing

The Winter Olympics continue to thunder on from Sochi, Russia - a winter paradise in which the temperatures have been so extraordinary that cross-country skiers competed while wearing short-sleeve shirts.  Truth be told, while working from home last Thursday (the WL-observed Presidents' Day) and waiting for the rate at which the snow was falling to slow enough to enable me to venture outside and start shoveling, which did not occur until after 12:00 noon, it was quite a nice distraction to see people looking as if they were appearing in winter sports without freezing their asses off.

Saturday morning I watched the U.S Olympic Hockey team's shootout win over the Russians.  It was certainly dramatic.   It was certainly entertaining.  That being said, when I read writers in various places on-line on Saturday comparing this win to the 1980 "Miracle On Ice" I laughed out loud.  Ever since the NHL started sending its players to the Olympics, the Olympic hockey tournament has turned into an exhibition tournament of the highest order.  The play is excellent to be sure.  But a team of American NHL All-Stars besting a team of Russian NHL All-Stars is not - and shall never be - the equal of a team of American college kids besting the Soviet Red Army team (a/k/a the best hockey team in the world).

1980 Miracle On Ice - US v USSR
Lake Placid, N.Y.

Do not misunderstand.  I rooted hard for the American team.  I marveled at the cool that T.J. Oshie exhibited in the shootout when his name was the only one called for the final five rounds and at the cool that Jonathan Quick exhibited as well in the American goal.  I cheered aloud when Oshie's winner found the back of the Russian net in Round Eight. 

Yet never - not even for one minute - did I mistakenly equate what I watched Saturday morning with what I had watched on a cold Friday night in February a lifetime ago.  How about we stop trying to sell what we are watching now as something "better" than what came before? 

High-Def technology certainly makes the picture on my television screen sharper and crisper than it was thirty-four years ago.  But while the picture is clearer now than it was then, it is still no substitute for the clarity of a memory.   


1980 US Olympic Hockey
Gold Medal Ceremony


Never has been.  Never will be.

-AK




 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Biting The Big Apple

For any and all celebrating Presidents' Day with a day off from school or work, enjoy your day.  On behalf of those of us who are working today, may I say thank you to all of you who have stayed home or done something other than commute to work today.  Your gift to us is an easier commute for which I thank you. 

It is my understanding - based upon nothing more scientific than having overheard a conversation between two women at the office (each of whom has at least one child currently enrolled in public school here in the State of Concrete Gardens) that this week all of the public schools in New Jersey are closed - scheduled holiday.  Respectfully, given the number of days that each district Statewide has already lost to Mother Nature, I would have hoped that something might have been done regarding this week's scheduled vacation, such as cancelling it and/or shortening it by several days, to help ensure that teachers and students are not keeping each other company into July.  The public schools in this state are required to have 180 school days annually.  In view of the beating they have taken thus far in February - with ten-plus days still on the docket - I wonder how close they are coming to have to extend school years all over New Jersey and just how deep into June they shall have to go. 

I suppose it could be worse for public school students, parents and teachers than enduring this horrific Jersey winter.  They could be attempting to endure it on the other side of the Hudson River.  As the great American philosopher Lawrence Peter Berra once rather famously observed, it is starting to get late early for New York City's brand new mayor, Bill De Blasio.  In less than two months on the job, Hizzoner has consistently emitted a "This Job Is Beyond My Ability To Comprehend" vibe.  His decision last Thursday to keep New York City public schools open - in the face of a storm that might actually have been worse than the dire forecast we had all heard the night before - was asinine.  Especially because he ordered children to school while simultaneously ordering that non-emergency vehicles be kept off of City streets and doubly so because approximately two hours after he reiterated his "we shall be open" mantra, he changed his tune and closed the schools down.  

In view of the marriage between today's calendar item and Mayor Dumb Assio's latest blunder, it should give all of us who live outside of the geographical boundaries of New York City great comfort to know that it has been more than one hundred years since a person who has been elected Mayor of New York City has ever been elected to another, higher office.  It has proven not to be a springboard to any higher political perch.  For the next three years and ten-plus months, he shall be the Big Apple's problem.  If history is any guide, then he shall never, ever be ours.

New York has already given us the great gift of Martin Van Buren after all.  How much of its generosity can the rest of us really afford? 

Besides, I do not know about you but I know that I do not have the mental storage capacity to learn yet another secret sign....
  



-AK

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Sunset Beckons....

1996.  A lifetime ago.  Not an entire lifetime of course but certainly a year in which the world was a markedly different place than it is now.  The terms "September 11", "Ground Zero" and "Let's Roll" did not yet occupy a tragically important place in the American lexicon. 

On the baseball diamond it was a magical year.  In the Bronx at least.  Led by their brand-new manager, a Brooklynite named Torre, the New York Yankees did something they had not done since 1981.  They won the American League pennant.  Even better, they did something that they had not done since 1978.  They won the World Series.  My son Rob was a little boy.  He turned ten that April.  Derek Jeter was a rookie.

In an era when baseball teams still had "Fan Appreciation Day", Rob made his very-first trip to Yankee Stadium on Saturday, September 21st.  It was the middle game of a three-game weekend set with the Boston Red Sox.  It was a game that would otherwise be lost to the dustbin of history for me but for the fact that it was Rob's first-ever game.  In a real pitcher's duel, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 12-11 in ten innings.  The eight pitchers Torre used did a slightly better job of scattering fourteen Boston hits than the seven hurlers who toed the rubber for the Sox did that afternoon and who surrendered a whopping twenty-two hits.  

Boston Red Sox 11, New York Yankees 12
Game played on Saturday, September 21, 1996 at Yankee Stadium
ab
  r
  h
rbi
Bragg cf,rf,cf
5
1
2
0
Frye 2b
5
1
1
2
Vaughn 1b
3
0
0
0
6
1
1
3
4
2
2
0
  Tinsley cf
1
0
1
0
  Cordero ph
0
0
0
0
  Nixon pr,rf
0
0
0
0
5
0
2
2
Manto 3b
2
0
0
0
  O'Leary ph,lf
1
1
0
0
5
3
3
3
3
2
2
1
  Rodriguez 3b
0
0
0
0
  Jefferson ph
1
0
0
0
  Pozo 3b
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
  Gunderson p
0
0
0
0
  Mahomes p
0
0
0
0
  Eshelman p
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
  Slocumb p
0
0
0
0
  Hudson p
0
0
0
0
Totals
41
11
14
11
ab
  r
  h
rbi
Raines lf
6
3
3
2
Boggs 3b
5
3
1
0
5
2
4
2
  Rivera pr,rf
0
0
0
0
6
1
1
3
5
1
1
2
4
0
3
0
Jeter ss
6
0
3
3
6
0
2
0
Sojo 2b
3
0
0
0
  Duncan ph,2b
2
1
2
0
  Fox pr,2b
0
1
0
0
  Strawberry ph
0
0
0
0
  Kelly pr,2b
0
0
0
0
Key p
0
0
0
0
  Bones p
0
0
0
0
  Pavlas p
0
0
0
0
  Nelson p
0
0
0
0
  Polley p
0
0
0
0
  Weathers p
0
0
0
0
  Lloyd p
0
0
0
0
  Wetteland p
0
0
0
0
Totals
48
12
20
12
Boston
0
0
0

1
5
2

3
0
0

0
11
14
1
New York
0
0
1

0
3
3

3
1
0

1
12
20
0

IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
Maddux  
4.0
7
3
2
1
1
  Gunderson  
0.0
0
1
1
1
0
  Mahomes  
1.2
4
3
3
1
2
  Eshelman  
0.2
2
3
3
4
1
  Brandenburg  
0.2
2
0
0
0
0
  Slocumb  
2.0
3
1
1
3
2
  Hudson  L (3-5)
0.2
2
1
1
2
0
Totals
9.2
20
12
11
12
6
IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
Key  
4.2
8
6
6
2
2
  Bones  
0.1
2
2
2
0
1
  Pavlas  
1.1
1
1
1
1
0
  Nelson  
0.0
2
2
2
1
0
  Polley  
0.2
0
0
0
0
0
  Weathers  
0.2
1
0
0
0
2
  Lloyd  
0.1
0
0
0
0
0
  Wetteland  W (2-3)
2.0
0
0
0
2
1
Totals
10.0
14
11
11
6
6

  E–Vaughn (15).  DP–Boston 1, New York 2.  2B–Boston Haselman 2 (12,off Key,off Nelson); Canseco (22,off Key); Bragg (23,off Bones); Greenwell (18,off Pavlas); Pemberton (6,off Nelson), New York Jeter (24,off Mahomes); B Williams (25,off Brandenburg).  3B–Boston Garciaparra (3,off Key).  HR–Boston Haselman (6,6th inning off Bones 0 on, 0 out).  SH–Garciaparra (1,off Pavlas); R Rivera (1,off Hudson).  HBP–Vaughn 2 (14,by Key,by Polley); Pemberton (1,by Bones).  IBB–Vaughn (19,by Pavlas); Cordero (4,by Wetteland); Strawberry (5,by Slocumb).  SB–Garciaparra (4,2nd base off Bones/Girardi); Frye (16,3rd base off Wetteland/Girardi); Nixon (1,2nd base off Wetteland/Girardi); Raines (10,2nd base off Slocumb/Haselman).  HBP–Key (2,Vaughn); Bones (10,Pemberton); Polley (3,Vaughn).  IBB–Slocumb (4,Strawberry); Pavlas (2,Vaughn); Wetteland (4,Cordero).  U-HP–Jim Evans, 1B–Larry McCoy, 2B–Dale Ford, 3B–Chuck Meriwether.  T–4:45.  A–54,599.
Game played on Saturday, September 21, 1996 at Yankee Stadium
Baseball Almanac Box Score |


The game took close to five hours to complete - due in no small part to the fact that the two teams' pitchers combined to issue twenty walks.   They needed something to break up the monotony of all those base hits I suppose. 

Had I carried a cell phone in 1996 I am quite confident that Margaret would have called at least once to make sure that we were still alive and well.  I did not.  Therefore she did not.  The game finally ended in the bottom of the tenth inning when with two outs the Yankees plated the winning run courtesy of a single off of the bat of their seven-hole hitter.  A slightly built young fellow with hair on his head and an earnest look on his face who had played shortstop well enough all season to be featured prominently in the conversation for American League Rookie of the Year.  Jeter stroked the hit and as the winning run crossed home plate he rounded first base with his fist raised triumphantly.   After Jeter made his announcement, I found myself ferreting around in the basement.  The day after Rob's maiden voyage to the Stadium I had made him something to commemorate our day.  Given my abject lack of artistic ability, it is not much to see.  Yet seeing that it has survived all these years brought a smile to my face.




In the two decades or so that have passed between that season and this one, I have smiled watching Jeter and his fist pump too many times to count.  Back in the day, before college and then full-fledged adulthood (his, not mine) interceded Rob and I used to watch a lot of those moments in each other's company.  Time passes.  Children are no longer children.  For the past few years we have rooted for the Yankees from two different time zones.  Geography has done little to blunt the passion.   

This past Wednesday, as he awaited the arrival of his teammates in Tampa, Florida to start Spring Training, Derek Jeter announced that this upcoming season shall be his last.  Whenever the Yankees' 2014 season ends - and for those keeping score at home their final regular season series is at Fenway Park - so shall his extraordinary career.  He no longer has the full head of hair he had way back when he was a rookie in '96.  These things happen.  I have a hell of a lot more gray and white hair on my head than I did in 1996 so far be it for me to sound critical of his situation. 

2014.  It is the year in which my once-young son shall take a bride.  It is the year in which the manager of the 1996 World Series Champion New York Yankees....and the 1998 World Series Champion New York Yankees....and the 1999 World Series Champion New York Yankees....and the 2000 World Series Champion New York Yankees, a Brooklynite named Joe Torre, shall be enshrined in the Baseball Hall-of-Fame.  And it is the year in which Derek Jeter shall bid the New York Yankees farewell.  The final member of the Core Four.  The last remaining member of Joe Torre's Dynasty.  

     
The hero of Fan Appreciation Day 1996 - and the hero to a lot of appreciative fans on too many days to count in the years since then.   

For him, now, the sunset beckons. 

-AK