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Reflections of Baseball Past

Spring is finally here in Boston and by the time you are reading this, Opening Day for Major League Baseball will be a memory. The thing I like about the start of a baseball season is the hope it brings. We can dream of a pennant or even maybe a World Series Championship.

I am so proud to live in Boston. Just think of it – we are the home of champions, Bruins, Celtics, my beloved Patriots and of course, the Red Sox. Personally for me, watching a baseball game is as entertaining as watching paint dry until either the pitcher is hurling a no hitter or it’s the top of the 9th and the score is tied.

The kids (or should I say the boys) in the North End in the 60s ate, drank and slept baseball. The transistor radio made it easy to sit in the Gassy and listen to the game. The guys would flock to Joe and Mary’s on Cooper Street every Friday to be there for the arrival of the new packs of baseball cards that came with that delicious gum.  The guys tossed the gum but, I always managed to get some, yum.

A baseball card was an introduction and following of an athlete’s career. The first card for the athlete came when he was a rookie. It gave stats on the player and sported a great picture.

The guys collected and traded the cards. When there were cards that could be discarded, they were attached to the spoke of a bike to make a wonderful puttering sound. It was such a simple time. We had fun.

No one collected to make money. There was just a pride to have a card. I remember the day one of my friends got a Mickey Mantle card in his pack. It was the Holy Grail!

If you got a chance to meet the athlete in person, it was like you died and went to heaven. Joe Pagliuca (Joe Twist) and Matty Bamonte (Matty Grass) were avid baseball fans. They went to Fenway hours before even baseball practice when the athletes came into the stadium.

They hung out until the star athletics came and they tried to ask for their autograph. I understand today why the athletes are little apprehensive about giving autographs because it has become a monetary boom. Joe and Matty in those days just did it for the honor. Well most times they came up empty. But one day they hit pay dirt. It was July 31, 1961 when Fenway Park hosted the All-Star game. Joe and Matty were lucky enough to meet pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale – two of the best.

Fortunately, a Boston Herald photographer was there to catch it. A home run for two young boys whose picture appeared in the Herald and they became automatic jaw-dropping heroes.

So, after remembering and taking a breath, I stop to wish the Red Sox a great 2018 baseball season and I promise not to yawn.

4 Replies to “Reflections of Baseball Past

  1. Your accounting of that happy time hit the mark on every point, Rita. The newspaper photo of Joe and Matty speaks volumes.
    Thank you for the memory—Nicky would have LOVED it.

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