color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: September 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I love baseball. I love to read about it; listen to it; watch it; play it. It has been a passion of mine since I learned to play the game at age 12. I played until I was into my 40's -- the last few years being the only player with teenage children at the backstop yelling, "Good hit, Mom!" One of my cherished memories includes an unassisted triple play I made while playing for an employee team in an industrial league while living in Illinois.
My mitt

I love going to baseball fields -- park district, Little League, college, semi-pro, big leagues. I love the sights of the game and the sounds of the game. I am a vocal cheerer and a yeller at games. No player or umpire is safe. I love the game! I love the fundamentals, the nuances, the strategy. I love people who also love The.Game. I have often said that I believe that if you live a good life, you go to Heaven and God lets you play baseball every day and He doesn't care that you're a girl.  
Yankee Stadium 2014

I love movies about baseball -- Pride of the Yankees, Angels in the Outfield, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams... I couldn't have agreed more when Terrance Mann says in Field of Dreams,  "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again."  

Baseball has not only marked the time for our Nation, but for me... from a grade school girl learning to play on a softball field in Roseland to high school in Wheeling to industrial league fields in Illinois and New York and Little League fields of Monroe, Nanuet and New City, NY. Baseball memories are seared in my brain, including one son pitching a LL All-Star game...

My Yankees Sign
and another standing at bat with the post-season on the line, down a run, with two out and two on in the bottom of the 9th... the son who had not had even one hit all season... wondering how I would console him... when he smacks a triple to the left field fence and was carried off the field by his teammates (every child deserves to be a hero like that at least once in their life!) and one son outgrowing his mitt in the middle of the season so I loaned him mine... and when another boy said, "Hey! Nice mitt!", a kind of odd pride that filled me when my son replied, "Thanks. It's my mom's..." 

While I lived in Chicago, I cheered for the White Sox and the Cubs -- cutting many a day or afternoon of high school with friends to get to a Cubs game. When I moved to New York in the Fall of 1978, I became an INSTANT Yankees fan because, well, they were IN the post-season which, if you're from Chicago, you know rarely happens. People couldn't believe I had only lived there weeks the way I cheered. After an emergency surgery in 1980, I actually awoke and asked who won the game! I attended at least one Yankees game every single year I lived in New York and multiple games many years. Good years (there were many) and bad (there were a few), I cheered my Yankees.
Yankee Stadium June 2014
I have never been to Yankees Stadium (old or new) that I didn't say, "Man, I LOVE this place!" When we lived in New York, I would walk into Yankee Stadium and say, "I gotta get me a job here!"
I would stay up late and wake the house with my exuberant yelling when the Yankees scored... even today, I still cheer loudly when I'm listening to or watching the Yankees. When we retired to Arizona in 2004, I signed up for MLB Gameday and have listened to Yankees games every chance I get. When I bought my last car, I made them throw in the XM Radio subscription so I could listen to Yankees games wherever I was in the car. This year, I have MLB.TV for the last of the season just to be sure that I could see the season's final games.

Signed DJ Baseball
I have a small Yankees "shrine" in our library. I have a Derek Jeter signed baseball... a Yankee Stadium replica... and a Stadium music box/snow globe. A signed Derek Jeter baseball. I have a picture of Joe Torre and I chatting at a charity event in 1998.
Me and Joe Torre 1998
When someone asked him about Derek Jeter, he said that Jeter was "the oldest soul in a young man's body" he had ever met and that he was more impressed with Jeter as both a player and a person than he had been by any other person in his life. 

I even have dirt from the old Yankee Stadium. 
Historical Yankee Stadium Dirt

Unused Yankee Playoff Tix
 I have a large collection of UNUSED Yankee playoff tickets -- always having tickets to game 4 or 6 when they took it in 3 or 5. The only year I had early tickets it was a DAY GAME (the first in 20 YEARS!!!), couldn't get out of professional commitments so I sent a son and his best friend -- who, of course, called me from the game to tell me what a great time they were having!! That best friend is now a NYC Detective who routinely takes paid details at Yankee Stadium (and texts me pictures like this LOL).
Detective Removing Rabble

Which brings me to this emotional season in baseball... the last for my favorite player, Derek Jeter. And I didn't sign on to the Jeter camp late in his career. I have been privileged to watch and cheer for "Jeets" his entire career. I have loved watching him not just because he is a handsome and talented baseball player but because Derek has always played hard and he plays to win. It's the only way to play the game (and LIFE!)
Jeets June 2014
It has always been for Derek about the game and about The.Team. Even now in his final season and his final games, no matter how long the crowd chants his name, he will not reappear from the dugout because it is a distraction from the game and the team. 

Of course (!) there have been personal accomplishments and financial rewards for Jeter, but they are the frosting on his cake. This past summer we routed our vacation through New York so that I could attend a game in Derek's last season.

Derek Jeter has played for the New York Yankees for HALF of his lifetime. At 40, he has played baseball there... in NY... for half of his life. And what a career it has been!!! The only player to ever be named MVP of both the World Series and the All-Star Game in the same year. An AL All-Star 14 times. Yankees Player of the Year 5 times. Five Golden Gloves and Silver Slugger Awards. 1996 Rookie of the Year. 

For active players he is ranked FIRST: number of at bats, plate appearances, runs scored, assists at short stop, hits, singles, double-plays turned... and for his career in the top ten of all those categories. More than 1,300 RBIs and more than 1,100 base on balls. His baseball achievements are staggering. 

They don't have statistics (just video) of all those OHMYGOD!! Derek Jeter moments: the leap into the seats to make a play... the jump 'n' turn move... the run across the infield, snatch the ball on the 1st base line and heave it to Jorge at home plate for the out... the home run in November... so many. 

Jeter School Folder circa 1995


I will miss Derek Jeter on so many levels. I know in my lifetime we will never see the likes of Jeter again -- on or off the field. He is how I'd want my child to act. To work hard, try hard, try for success, play to win, maintain his dignity. He never showed up the umps.
The Captain June 2014

He never showed up his teammates. He tried to maintain his friendships and not speak unkindly when controversy swirled around other players. He taught the younger players. He led by example -- acts and deeds. And to know that's true, you only need look at how his teammates, other players and the fans have treated and acknowledged him this year.

To paraphrase Bud Selig on Jeter's career and his lasting impact on the game, "You couldn't have written a better script." 

So tomorrow, if the rain holds off or stops long enough and they get the game in, I will be teary-eyed for sure and I may actually weep -- and I certainly will be cheering -- for Derek Jeter during his last game at Yankee Stadium... and Sunday when he plays the last game of his career. 

And while Derek Jeter loves to thank the Good Lord that he was made a Yankee, I would like to thank the Good Lord, too, that He made Derek Jeter a Yankee!! 

And I want to say to Jeets: Thank you, Derek, for a lifetime of memories and for the baseball. Thank you!

(and if the Yankees know what's good for baseball AND the Yankees, they will hire him immediately -- AND sell him a stake in the organization -- no one does the Yankees better!!)