“Take me out to the ballgame, buy me some peanuts and crackerjack….” How about a hot dog too? What goes down better at the old ballgame than a hot dog? I have some stories about hot dogs at Fenway Park that tell tales about more than just eating them. Listen and you shall hear. About one that almost killed me. Another with which I almost killed another guy. Well, a bit of hyperbole there. We’ll get to a preview of that.
First, a little history. Who were the opponents in Fenway’s first game ever in 1912, less than a week before the Titanic went down with Leonard DeCaprio aboard:)? Right, the Red Sox and the Harvard University nine. They did a redux in 1916. The Sox won the pennant in both those years. How could the Harvards match wits and hits with a team featuring players like Tris Speaker and Babe Ruth? Predictably, they lost the 1912 game, but amazingly they vanquished the Sox in 1916.
Today it’s all about AL MVP Shohei Ohtani, a great pitcher and slugger. Hey, what about George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Red Sox slugging and pitching star in the 19teens who was arguably the best pitcher and batter in the AL even before he got to the Yankees? And what about his grand home in Sudbury, Massachusetts, with its big grand piano which the Babe toted in a state of inebriation and threw it into Willis Pond fronting his manse to show off his strength. Babe Ruth didn’t want to leave Boston. He loved it here. Blame it on Sox owner, Harry Frazee, who loved Broadway, and the show, “No, No, Nanette,” more than he loved baseball, and sold the Babe to the Yankees to finance it!
Babe Ruth very likely saved baseball from ruination following the infamous 1919 Black Sox scandal with his outsize personality and incredible batting skills. Who else could boast in later years that the reason he was being paid more than the President was because, “I had a better year than he did!”
Oh yeah, hot dogs. How could a puny guy hit a Ruthian home that almost removed me forever from the ranks of the bleacher boys? How could fastidious me dump a gargantuan hot dog on an unsuspecting box seat customer? Listen and I’ll tell you more. What do peas in the sky have to do with Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and my wife, Lois? Is this podcast all about food? Did I have to tell on it why I don’t like buffets? Or why architects don’t like Fenway Park? And what does the old long defunct Record-American newspaper have to do with my parents, the Nazi attack on Poland to open WWII, the Berklee Performance Center, longtime Yankee pitcher “Bump” Hadley from Lynn, Mass., the last game of Ty Cobb’s career in 1928, and the emergence of rookie Ted Williams in 1939? Believe me, they all hang together, and then some. For that matter what do the York Times and the University of Massachusetts have to do with a Jimmy Foxx walk-off home run in 1940 with then sophomore Teddy Ballgame on base? Dusty libraries make the difference. What does that mean? OK, how about 1942, a year after “The Kid” hit .406, when at eleven I got my picture in the paper with him? Or in 1943 when Ted outslugged the Babe in the midst of WWII? Me, alias Zaftig, has a few JFK stories too. Did he really say ‘Hi Larry” to me ascending the stairs at historic Faneuil Hall to give a speech on the eve of Election Day in 1960?
If this all sounds a little scattered with lots of questions, I promise if you listen I’ll make sense out of it all. Even my friend Jordan Rich is a doubter, retreating from the mike as we ended, saying about the drink in my hand, “I’m afraid you’ll spill it on me.”