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01/20/2015

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Michael Pacholek

This recollection reminded me of my own grandfather, who grew up in The Bronx, and could walk down the street and watch them build the first Yankee Stadium. He saw Babe Ruth before Lou Gehrig. Half a century later, he got me hooked as a Yankee fan, but it took him 10 years to die from smoking, and as a result he never saw the renovated Stadium except on TV.

For years, I planned to be at the Stadium for his centennial, hoping the Yankees would be at home. When the 2006 schedule came I out, I saw that they were, and against a team he would have recognized -- your Tigers. I was relieved: Everything was working out.

Until the ninth inning. Joe Torre had used Mariano Rivera three nights in a row, and didn't want to use him again. So he used Scott Proctor as a closer, and I said, "Uh-oh." He got to one strike away, and Craig Monroe hit one halfway to Yonkers. The Yankees went down meekly in the bottom of the ninth, and the Tigers won. I never heard my Grandpa use profanity, so I spent the subway ride back to Port Authority Bus Terminal wondering what he would say. I know what I said: "Proctor, yer a bum!"

I don't know if there are victory cigars or nice drinks in heaven, but, if there are, your grandfather would've been justified in having them that night. Mine would've been in too bad a mood.

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Dan Epstein

  • Dan Epstein is the author of Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s and Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76, both published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press. He writes about baseball, music and other cultural obsessions for a variety of outlets and publications. He lives in Southern California, and is available for speaking engagements.