Ah, memory….

My memory is shot. I can’t reliably tell you what day of the week it is, or what we’ve got scheduled for the next few days. I expect soon to forget my middle name. But baseball….

I can tell you the Washington Senators won the World Series in 1924 and that Bucky Harris hit the ball that took the bad hop over Freddie Lindstrom’s shoulder. I can tell you the names of the Cleveland “Big Four” in 1954 (Lemon, Wynn, Garcia, Feller) and that the Indians won 111 games that year—before getting swept by the Giants in the World Series. I can tell you that the unlikely winner of the American League Batting Championship in 1961 was Norm Cash. I can tell you that the ironically famous “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry had an older brother named Faye, who played mostly for the Red Sox and Senators. The other day we were watching a basketball game on TV, and I saw that one of the kids was wearing the number 32. “Hey,” I said. “Elston Howard,” and went off on a little riff about the late 1963 American League MVP, who became the Yankees’ primary catcher after Yogi Berra (John Blanchard was in the bullpen).

This stuff has frequently, dismissively, inevitably—and with profound incorrectitude—been described by others as trivia. (I once met a former employer at a wedding reception. He greeted me by saying, “I hear you’ve got a job now doing something as a baseball freak.” Which wonderfully teed up my reply: “You are calling me a freak?”) This knowledge, reminds me of my father and grandfathers, and my mother and aunts. It reminds me of teammates and particular games and moments. It’s fundamental to me, accumulated in my boyhood brain back when baseball, partly because of all these connections, was the most important thing in my life. And clearly, a lot of it really got stuck there.

So, what did I have for dinner tonight? Who knows? But the White Sox beat the Dodgers, 11-1 in Game One of the 1959 World Series. (Though the Dodgers took it in Six.)

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