The Pinetar Rag

January 23, 2013

Addendum to the Musial post

I forgot this anecdote when I did the rush job on the Musial post. This is true. It happened to me at the 1987 New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers annual dinner. That dinner was going on the night that Weaver and Musial passed. It’s held every January and regular joes can get in and you see many many baseball icons close up throughout the night.

The players on the dais are obvious, but if you look around, you will see some surprises. At the cocktail hour, I looked up and I saw Dolph Camilli, the 1941 NL MVP for the Dodgers just talking to someone and not being recognized too much. You see there are swarms of obnoxious autograph seekers at these things and it was funny that they didn’t recognize an MVP. I recognized him because I had just finished reading Durocher’s book and he is a doppleganger for Durocher.

I kind of regret now that I didn’t just go up and shake his hand or something, but I didn’t want to bug him. I was just talking to the Boston office about this very same thing as he had a chance to meet Smokey Joe Wood when he was a kid and he passed on it, because he didn’t really know WHO Joe Wood was. I wouldn’t have either. 1912 is a long time ago. I don’t think any one would have known of him if it weren’t for Roger Angel’s book, “Late Innings” and “The Glory of Their Times”. [The Glory...Times is a must read if you haven't]

I recall DiMaggio coming in near the end, totally unannounced. He came in right by our table in the back and I was amazed at how grown men just lost it. They just bolted to him and literally pounded him on the back and shoved things right under his nose to be signed (he didn’t) and shot flash bulbs off in his face! No warning–it was bedlam. He was rescued and escorted up to the dais and made an impromtu speech.

Later, they wheeled Campy in the wheelchair, right by us on the way out. He looked tired, eyes closed. Guys who were too young to have seen him play told him he was the best.

I recall Jon Miller did the MC duty and did his impressions: Scully, Bob Sheppard ordering eggs in a diner, the works.

It was a lot of fun. But one thing that struck me was in the men’s room. A guy not much younger than my dad turned to his friend and said excitedly, “…hey you know last year, I took a wizz here right next to Stan Musial…”

I think my “Musial” moment was later on when that happened to me, only when I looked over, it was Davey Johnson.

I will be taking my boys to that dinner when they are the right age. I figure 11 & 13? Somewhere in there. The following year, when I went, I got to see Mickey trying to make a speech after too many drinks and it was surreal. This was before all the stuff came out and I just looked at my friend and said, “Shazam…Mickey’s looped!”

The awards he was giving was the “Joe DiMaggio Toast of the Town Award” and he turned to Whitey Ford and said something like, “…toast of the town? Hey Whitey, you ever see Joe pick up a check?”

And as we blanched, he kept on with stuff like, “…I think he’s still wearing that suit from those Mr. Coffee commercials…”

Splashdown.

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