I heard two fellow members of the Mt. Kisco Athletic club talking in the locker room about the Brooklyn Dodgers recently, and eagerly joined the conversation straightaway.
One man said that his mother used to have dinner on the table every night when his father got home, but after Thompson hit his blast, she retired to her room and didn’t emerge until the next day.
Another noted that Gil Hodges was very shy. He was a customer of the man’s father, and agreed to speak at an event at the father’s invitation. Moments before Hodges was to speak he told the father that he would have to beg off.
I said I went to a couple of Dodgers games back in the 60’s during my college days, and might even have seen Sandy Koufax pitch.
Then one said he heard a story going back to the 80’s. Koufax was a frequent visitor to the Mets’ Spring Training Camp, and on occasion would throw batting practice. One time a Mets coach who was a former teammate of Sandy’s saw that Koufax was throwing strike after strike after strike. He went over the the manager and said, “Sandy doesn’t know where he is. Once he gets on the mound he blocks everything out. You think he is throwing to Mets players. He thinks he is throwing to a major league team in a game situation, so you should warn the players to be careful lest he throw too close to them.”
That led the other to mention he had once seen an interview with Roger Clemens in which Clemens was asked if had ever intentionally thrown at a player. He said, “No.” His wife was standing at his side. She broke out into laughter and then said, “Roger, yes you have. You once threw at our son in a Little League practice. He was only twelve years old.” Roger replied, “That was just a brushback. I didn’t plan to hit him.”
I forgot to relate to them my own pitching story to them. I will share it with you now.
Once while attending a baseball game at Gedney Park in Millwood I fell into a conversation with a mom who had a son or two in the back seat of her car. I said that games could leave indelible memories. I still remembered the arc of the ball when I hit my first, and probably only, grand slam homer during a Little League Game.
I then told them about a game my son Michael had played in at the nearby field next to Rocky’s Deli in Millwood. The game had gone into extra innings, and Mike won the game by hitting a ball over the third baseman’s head.
I said that Michael and I would remember that game for the rest of our lives.
I then heard a voice from the back seat. One of the woman’s sons said, “Sir, I’ll remember that game, too. I threw that pitch.”