By: Bullpen Betty
Mind over matter ~ Collaborative independence ~ International multiculturalism
These phrases could either describe baseball or the reality of living in the City of New York. Maybe that’s why New York is a baseball town and the New York Yankees are the greatest baseball team ever. And that is not an alternative fact.
Whereas most popular professional sports run against the clock, baseball is a contest against one’s skill and tenacity.
Each player stands alone, exposed, on offense as a batter, and on defense in a specific field position, forcing baseball to be direct and honest.
And I think we can all agree that there is no harder job on the planet than that of a professional baseball pitcher.
You can run but you can’t hide.
My introduction to baseball came via my dad, who took me to Yankee Stadium in 1977. I was very young, and if you know anything about NYC that year, it was about as wild as it gets. I recall fans ripping seats out of the cement and throwing them on the backstop. I thought it was awesome.
And besides, Reggie Jackson and I have the same birthday.
I started playing softball in second grade, which is as close as a young lass could get to playing baseball back then (and probably even now). And there was no bigger event than our little town’s Little League Opening Day. It was probably 1982 or ’83 and my dad had recently been elected Mayor. With that exalted position came the responsibility of throwing the season’s first pitch. In front of the entire town. TO ME. I recall my BFF telling me if I missed it, it would be the first miss in 40 years.
I put my mitt on. Crouched a bit behind home plate. Put my glove up, and waited for my LEFT HANDED dad-the-Mayor to hurl one from the mound in my direction. Lucky for me, my dad was an athlete in politician’s clothing. WHAP! I didn’t even have to move a millimeter…he threw the ball directly into my mitt.
And the villagers rejoiced.
Then came the mid-‘80s. The Yankees were terrible and my mom, who never watched pro sports, discovered the Mets. Or, I should say she discovered Gary Carter one night while flipping through TV channels, which led her to devote the next 10 years of her life to the Mets. We all fell in line. Not ordinarily an easy road to take, but in the 80s, it was the clear choice.
Decades later, when asked what the best day of her life was she would respond, “Game 6.” When prodded what the second best day of her life was she’d say, “Game 7.” Apparently getting married and giving birth followed somewhere later on, hopefully still in the top 10 (but never confirmed).
After that I didn’t pay much attention to either team for years, only attending games sporadically — and only when I was offered free tickets.
2010: Enter Curtis Granderson. Similar to what happened to my mom, I caught a bit of a spring training game on TV, saw Curtis, and suddenly I was back on team Yankee – in a big way. I was home again. I soon became Bullpen Betty, bought the URL, and created a Facebook page, Twitter handle and a podcast with my co-host Gigo. And now I’m the baseball correspondent on WFMU’s “Sportsy Talk” every Tuesday night.
Baseball means everything to me: my youth, my dad, my dearly departed mom, my city, my mind, my soul.
It is the greatest sport in the world, and that, too, is not an alternative fact.