Puzzles And Games

Entry by: Henry C

24th March 2023
No one smokes at ball games anymore

As a kid my best memories were of my dad and me and the ball game. My dad was blue collar, wore jeans and a work shirt most days but on Sundays, ball game days, he always dressed smart.

We'd sit on wooden benches, me in my Dodgers shirt and him in his jacket and blue check shirt, newly pressed with a polka dot bow tie. He wore slacks that I thought were sacred as I only ever saw him wear on Sundays and a little white sun shade hat that come rain or shine he would always wear. In this picture of tailored perfection he would add his own eccentricity and wear red baseball sneakers. He said they were comfortable. Dad never smoked except on ball game days, three cigars, one before, one during and one after the game.

Our games against the Yankees were always the best although we hardly ever won. We'd made four World Series in the late forties and early fifties and lost them all to the Yankees. I remember the second time, in 1953 when we lost, Dad was distraught. He locked himself in his den that afternoon and didn'€™t come out until next day.

The first words he said when he opened the door were "Next year kid."€

Next time came two years later. 1955. The Dodgers had a great season and won their division with ease. We had great hopes going into the World Series again to face our nemesis, the Yankees. We lost the first two games and it seemed we'd be forever the bridesmaids. Then things clicked. We won three straight with the Duke of Flatbush, the great Duke Snider giving the Yankees hell. Dad puffed his way through his three cigars and screamed and hollered louder than most. The Yankees won game 6 and it was all set for the final showdown. Yankee Stadium. October 4 1955.

I was eleven years old and I'd never seen so many people in my life. We took the subway to 125th Street and started walking. Dad had checked his wallet at least ten times that afternoon, making certain the tickets were safe. He began looking around at the thousands making their way to the game.

"We'€™re gonna be late,kid, " he said then grabbing my hand, he started to run. I never knew Dad could run so fast. We made it with half an hour to go. Dad was sweating and blowing and started his second cigar early, a sure sign of nerves.

"This is next year son,"€ he muttered, " this is it."

He rocked in his seat all the way through the game, mulling over bad decisions, softly cussing so I couldn't hear. I did of course but I never let on. Johnny Podres shut the Yankees out. We won 2-0. Game over. Our first World Series!

Dad never left his seat. They said it was a heart attack brought on by the excitement but I guess he had nothing left to live for. A policeman took me home to my mom. She cried a lot. I told her we'd won the World Series but she still cried.

Brooklyn never won another World Series although we came close and a few years later the Brooklyn Dodgers upped and left for the sunshine of LA. It was never the same after that.

Nobody smokes at ball games anymore of course but I still carry three cigars in my pocket just for dad. I watch the Mets now, not every game though but when I do, I walk.

I always walk.