A Mother's Trip Down Memory Lane
I'm Rich's mother and agreed to "do" this story for Mother's Day. He and his son Joe are flying home today after spending a week on the east coast, attending games at Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, and Shea Stadium, as well as visiting Cooperstown for a couple of days.
My credentials – I probably should say credential – are having been married to a sportswriter for thirty years. There were definitely some perks.
Receiving four season tickets to the Dodgers games during the eleven years (1958-68) George covered them for the Long Beach Press-Telegram. These tickets probably had a lot to do with our immense popularity at that time.
Rubbing elbows with the players. Unlike today's multi-millionaire players, the athletes in the sixties were very approachable. We carpooled back and forth to and from the airport with the likes of Gino Cimoli and Stan Williams; played bridge with the Roebucks and Ginger Drysdale. Drove to spring training games in Phoenix with Jeri Roseboro, bought flatware from one of the Sherry brothers during the off-season (can't remember which one), received an etched-glass invitation to Frank Tanana’s wedding (didn’t go, can’t imagine now why not), were guests of the Drysdales at their Hidden Hills home and traded recipes with Pat Reiser (as in Mrs. Pete).
Receiving a color television set for Christmas from the Dodgers after they won the World Series in 1959! We were the only ones in our large circle of friends (remember the season tickets?) to own one and we certainly were popular the following week during the Rose parade! Think that would be a conflict of interest today? The Dodgers even handed out meal money to the writers before every trip. In cash!
Accompanying George on a road trip. That was an event! I flew on the "Kay O" Dodger plane with the team. As an interesting aside, the plane landed to refuel on a distant tarmac in Grand Island, Nebraska. I loudly shared (shouted?) that I was born in Grand Island, Nebraska. Some wag loudly proclaimed, "Nobody was born in Grand Island, Nebraska!" The trip included stops in St Louis, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The World's Fair was taking place near Shea Stadium, and I was able to view Michelangelo's Pieta from a moving sidewalk before going to a game. Highlight! One day, after a game in New York, Maury Wills took George and me on a tour of Greenwich Village. We stopped in several bars where he was well known and in the last one he was invited to play Banjo with the small jazz band. Incredible!
Richard has written about the two pair of shoes, complete with pitching toes that Sandy Koufax gave to our left-handed pitching teenager, Tom, when he retired. Only one shoe has survived. And the priceless souvenir that is the official scorer's (George) score card, framed along with Walter Alston's lineup card that hung in the dugout of Sandy Koufax's perfect game. Cooperstown wants that, but we are hanging on to it!
It seemed like George was on the road so much during those years – six weeks each spring in Vero Beach and every road trip during the season – that we jokingly referred to him as "Uncle Daddy." But those were wonderful times, the memories of which we will treasure forever. Happy Mother's Day to me and all the other baseball wives and widows!