“How about that?”

March 2, 2009

HANK BAUER, TOM STURDIVANT, MICKEY MANTLEIt wasn’t enough that this snow storm is disrupting my life; I had to wake up to the news that Tom Sturdivant had died. There may be more glamor attached to Yankee teams of other eras, but when names like Tom Sturdivant, Art Ditmar, Andy Carey, and Hank Bauer bob to the surface, I am again sitting on a summer evening on the step in front of our grocery store, tuning my GE transistor radio until I hear the voices of Mel Allen and Red Barber. I was in paradise, and I knew it: I’m glad of that, at least. During Sturdivant’s brief time as a top starter for the Yankees, I was in high school, I wasn’t serious about life, and others were looking after my welfare. I wasn’t concerned because Mickey Mantle was a drunk, Billy Martin was a brawler, and Enos Slaughter was a racist. These were my gods when they were on the field; I asked nothing more. I won’t look back at more recent Yankee teams with the same naive sentiment – and not because the teams and players have changed, except in the details of their fallibility. I already know – intellectually, at least – that I’ll never sit on that front step again and listen to those southern voices turn the progress of a game into poetry. On this cold day, I didn’t need to be reminded.

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