Monday, February 28, 2011

Duke's passing reawakens old feelings

I was only 7 when the Dodgers left Brooklyn after the 1956 season.

Unlike kids today who are hip to every player on their favorite ballclub, be it the Rays or otherwise, there was only one who really mattered to me.

Duke Snider.

His death Sunday at 84 brought back memories.

Fistfights with kids on my block in East New York who were Yankee fans.

Flipping cards on the sidewalk with friends.

Clipping cards to the spokes of our bicycles to make noise as we rode, not having any idea those cards would be worth a fortune today.

Don't believe I subjected the Duke, the Dodgers smooth centerfielder, to such abuse.

When the Dodgers announced they were moving to LA, it didn't affect me like it did my dad and grandfather.

Maybe I was too young to understand.

The Dodgers leaving Brooklyn?

I remember my grandfather talking about watching grown men -- cops, firefighters -- cry at Farrell's, a working class Irish bar in Park Slope, acoss the street from where he and Grandma last lived.

Grandpa cried right along with them.

Dad? He swore off baseball for good.

It wasn't until years later I came to truly appreciate the "Boys of Summer" --- Carl Furillo, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella and ... Duke Snider --- meant to Brooklyn.

Not long I read a story about how much it was still part of him a half century later.

There was a framed photo hanging in his home in southern California and it showed the wrecking ball strike the edifice at Ebbets Field the day they started tearing down the old place.

I'm sure Duke's death stirred old feelings for old Brooklynites everywhere.

It did mine.


No comments:

Post a Comment