Welcome! It’s Day 1 of the “EMPTY SEATS” Blog Tour! @EmptySeatsNovel @4WillsPub #RRBC #baseball #Giveaways!
Welcome, my beautiful guests to another post (not by me) but by a fellow member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB. First, here are some goodies she’s offering, just for you following along with her tour!
GIVEAWAYS: During this tour, the author is giving away (1) $10 Amazon Gift Card, (2) $5 Amazon Gift Cards, (2) e-book copies of EMPTY SEATS & (1) copy of the author’s acclaimed “SINGING ALONG WITH THE RADIO” CD which features many prominent folk music singers (a $15 value)! For your chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment below as well as leaving a comment on any other stop along this tour. GOOD LUCK!
I know a lot of you are missing your sports right now, and especially baseball, due to the social distancing guidelines we’re having to follow thanks to COVID19. Well, Author, Wanda Adams Fischer is going to take some of your pain away for the next 10 days on her “EMPTY SEATS” Blog Tour. Yes, that’s really the title of her book and how appropriate for the times that we are living through right now.
Wanda, take it away!
Where did it come from, this fascination with baseball?
My father was not a fan. My mother was not attached to the game. My uncle was more interested in the Friday-night fights. My grandfather, who may have liked the boys of summer, passed away in October during my eighth year of life—the year when I first started to become attached to the Boston Red Sox. I do remember that he listened to some of the games on the radio.
But that cannot explain what planted a seed in my mind more than 60 years ago, just before I turned eight years old, that blossomed into a full-blown obsession with baseball that has followed me as both a blessing and a curse over my lifetime.
In 1956, little girls did not like baseball. In fact, girls who liked sports were the subject of taunting and teasing, and the boys—well, baseball was their domain, you know. Football and basketball were off limits as well. And on the South Shore of Boston, hockey was completely king—and totally off limits.
I never developed a liking for either football or hockey. Basketball, yes, but it didn’t develop into an obsession like the one for baseball. I followed the Celtics on a casual basis.
But oh, those Red Sox.
I listened to Curt Gowdy and Bob Murphy on WHDH radio. In truth, many of the things they talked about, I had no idea what was happening. But the inflection in their voices, the passion I absorbed through them over the airwaves, and the love of the game came alive. The reverence with which they spoke about Ted Williams was magic.
I started to read about the Red Sox in our local newspaper, The Quincy Patriot-Ledger. Every day. Even in the articles, I didn’t know what they were writing about when they described double plays, infield hits, line drives or other run-of-the-mill baseball terms. I was in the second grade, and, although my reading and reading comprehension was better than many of my peers, I had no one to explain these things to me.
Most Red Sox games were only televised on the weekends, on black-and-white tv, so the radio was the place to hear the games. I sat back, closed my eyes, and imagined what it would have been like to be at Fenway Park for those games.
Since I was a Red Sox fan, the season was over by the time the World Series rolled around. My team was out of it. They finished in the middle of the pack—fourth out of eight teams that existed at the time in the American League. But they were still my team, no matter what their win-loss record was.
My Boston Red Sox.
Instead, it was the dreaded Yankees facing off against their cross-town rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. and it was the year when Yankee pitcher Don Larsen pitched a perfect game against the Dodgers in game 5.
A perfect game. I asked my Uncle Walter, the Friday night fights fan, what that meant.
“Twenty-seven up, twenty-seven down,” he said.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It means that the pitcher’s so good that he doesn’t have anyone reach base for any reason. No walks, no hits, no errors. No one has a chance to score. You can have a no-hitter and the other team can score on you. In a no-hitter, you can walk a batter and there are other ways the other team can score against you. But a perfect game—no chance.”
A perfect game. Wow. I closed my eyes again and tried to imagine what that must feel like to a pitcher. A perfect game.
That phrase left a mark on my mind. Baseball is a perfect game.
But I didn’t know all that much about it. In my tabla rasa of an almost-eight-year-old mind, I set out to discover what it was all about.
(Minor league baseball field in the 1960s)
It would be many years after that before I would actually get to see the inside of Fenway Park.
When we were 14, two of my friends from junior high school, Elaine and Charlotte, also loved baseball, and we convinced our mothers that were were capable of maneuvering the two busses, one train and a trolley that it would require for us to make our way from our homes in North Weymouth, Massachusetts, to Kenmore Square, then walk to Fenway.
It was 1962, and the Red Sox were not exactly a championship team. Carl Yastrzemski was probably the only recognizable name from that team, although I remember most of them—Frank Malzone (third base), Pete Runnels (first base), Gary Geiger (center field), Eddie Bressoud (shortstop), and pitchers Bill Monbouquette, Earl Wilson and Dick Radatz are the ones who come to mind.
We took the first bus from the front of Thayer Pharmacy in Bicknell Square to Quincy Square, then we waited for the second bus to Fields Corner. When we got to the Fields Corner MBTA station, we waited for the train that took us to the Park Street Station. At Park Street, we took the stairs up one flight to look for a trolley that would take us to Kenmore Square.
We really didn’t know what we were doing or where we were going. We just read the signs and followed what we saw. Of course, in the back of my mind, I was hearing The Kingston Trio singing “Charlie on the MTA”— “Did he ever return? No, he never returned, and his fate is still unlearned…He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston…He’s the man who never returned…” But I never told Elaine of Charlotte!
Two different trolleys go to Kenmore—Riverside and Boston College. (Don’t get on Arborway via Huntington—that goes to Northeastern University.) We waited for one of those and got on. We even got a seat. Back then, the trolley signs simply read “Kenmore,” and made no reference to Fenway Park.
We knew we had to pay attention.
We were positively giddy when we walked through the turnstile at Kenmore, walked up the stairs and looked around. We were in the big city. We were going to a Major League Baseball game.
They were all stars in their hometowns. Then they were drafted to play minor league ball, thinking it would be an easy ride to playing in the big time. Little did they know that they’d be vying for a spot with every other talented kid who aspired to play professional baseball. Young, inexperienced, immature, and without the support of their families and friends, they’re often faced with split-second decisions. Not always on the baseball diamond.
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