Sunday, August 13, 2017

The World According to Mariano...

As luck would have it, the Colorado branch of the family business awakens today here in the State of Concrete Gardens.  Rob and Jess have spent a few whirlwind days here in the Eastern Time Zone, at a speed not unlike that associated with most of their all-too-brief sojourns "home", celebrating, on Friday night, the life that Jess's sister, Sara, and her brand new brother-in-law, Joe, have just begun and, then, on Saturday afternoon celebrating the life that my mother lived, which ended earlier this summer.  

This time last year, Rob was not within the geographical boundaries of the great state of New Jersey but he was on my mind, as he tends to be frequently.  On this very date last year, I wrote what is reprinted here today.  I liked it enough the first time to rerun it.  I shall defer to you whether your level of enthusiasm matches mine.  Whether it does or not, your secret is safe with me...


Not Playing But Still Winning

Mariano Duncan
1996 New York Yankees

Today in the Bronx the Yankees are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of their 1996 World Championship.  Their playoff appearances, including World Series victories, would blossom into something close to ritualistic for close to the decade that followed.  However, in 1996, the World Series they won when they roared back from a 2-0 Series deficit to defeat the Atlanta Braves in six games, Joe Torre's team was making the franchise's first Fall Classic appearance in a decade and a half.  What would in relatively short order take on the appearance of being ordinary was certainly anything but in October 1996. 

There are any number of memories that are emblazoned in my mind's eye from that season.  That October's big moments belonged in equal measures to Jeffrey Maier and to Jim Leyritz.  The Torre Family did it all:  Joe managedFrank convalesced, and Sister Marguerite prayed.  And for the first time in almost two decades, a Yankees' season culminated in a parade up the Canyon of Heroes. 

But what makes me smile the most at the memory of the fall of 1996 is Rob.  He was ten years old and had just started to acquire a taste for baseball.  Towards the end of that summer, on Fan Appreciation Day, he made his first trip to the Stadium.  On a sun-soaked Saturday afternoon, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox in extra innings.  A skinny, baby-faced rookie shortstop named Jeter drove in the the winning run.  

Rob and I lived and died with the Yankees that post-season.  It was his first year in scouting and the weekend of Games Three, Four, and Five of the ALCS in Baltimore, his troop had a camping trip to Picatinny Arsenal.  While we had no television on which to watch the games, one of his fellow Scouts had a radio, and quite a few of us, dads and sons, sat together at our campsite and listened to the games. 

A hell of a lot has happened in the twenty years since Charlie Hayes squeezed the final out of Game Six into his glove.  A lot of it has been good.  Quite a bit of it has been decidedly less so.  Neither the passage of time nor how I feel on a particular day when I get out of bed shall ever dampen or diminish my memory of that baseball season.  That team.  That experience that I had the chance to share with my son.  

Thanks again, Joe, for what you and your team accomplished.  The World Series Rings are yours alone but the memories?  They are available for all of us to savor.  


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