The Dick Summer Connection – 4-8-07

You caught me by surprise…lots of folks sent e-mails hoping my Lady Wonder Wench and I had a good vacation. We did. Caught the last week of New York Mets Spring training in Florida. Some funny stuff about it in the current PodCast. There was one moment that made me so proud… and one that would have been a disaster except for a nice lady by the name of Joan, who works at the Mets’ Tradition Field ticket office. I bought our “right behind home plate” tickets roughly ten minutes after they went on sale in January, and stapled them to our calendar so I wouldn’t lose them. But I got so used to seeing them there that I forgot them until I was at about 30,000 feet going about 500 miles per hour in the plane on the way to Florida. THEY WERE GONE…. impossible to replace right behind home plate tickets to four games that we’d been looking forward to since Beltran struck out to end the Mets hopes for the National League pennant last fall. The word stupid does not begin to describe the feeling.For one fleeting second, I wondered if there were any terrorists aboard who might be talked into using that forbidden can of hair spray that they smuggled past the x-ray machines, to force the plane to turn around and return to Philadelphia so I could get the tickets. As you know, you can always tell the terrorists at an airport because they all carry hidden cans of hair spray. I can only assume their plan is to threaten to spray the pilot’s back with enough of the stuff so that he sticks to his seat and can’t get up to go to the bathroom unless he does what they tell him to do. I was All Shook Up.

But Joan saved the day. She managed to find my order in the computer, and she replaced all eight tickets…then gave my Lady Wonder Wench one of those sympathetic “I understand, dear” smiles that one wife gives another about the dumb things their husbands do. If you go to Tradition field, please stop by the ticket office and thank Joan for saving my vacation. We don’t thank people like her enough… because we can’t.

The moment of so much pride came on Sunday. The public address announcer at Tradition Field asked everyone to “Stand and honor America as 8 year old Raquel (Somebody) sings our national anthem.” I don’t remember her last name. I wish I did. She walked out behind home plate and stood in front of 6,000 people in all her 4 foot something, maybe 90 pounds worth of little girl splendor. She was probably the only person in the stadium wearing a dress. Pink, I think, with a little bow on top. She took a deep breath, and started to sing…

“Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,” It was a little girl’s voice…with just a hint that in a few years, it might sound a bit like Whitney Houston…but not yet.

“What so proudly we hail, at the twilight’s last gleaming.” I started thinking about how proud my Lady Wonder Wench and I are of our two little girls…grown up women now.

“Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, were so gallantly streaming”… The old guy in the row in front of me had one arm around his wife, and his other hand was holding a very ancient baseball cap over his heart. “U.S. ARMY” were the letters on the cap…probably circa World War 2. He stood as straight and tall and proud as my dad used to stand.

“And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air”… The old guy began singing along with Raquel…very quietly and a little off key…but singing. And Wonder Wench started singing along with him…singing and crying…and I knew she was thinking about her brother Bob. His simple white cross stands in the sand behind Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod.

“Gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there”…More and more of the people around us started singing…very quietly and a little off key…but singing…together.

“Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave”… All of us were singing now. Very quietly and a little off key…but singing. All of us. All around the field.

“O’er the land of the free”…Even I was singing. Quietly. Off key, I guess. But singing…and thinking about my Uncle Joe the B-17 navigator, and my brother Geoff who did a second tour in Vietnam because he knew the experience he got the first time around would save a couple of buddies. He was right. It cost him a chunk of his leg…but it doesn’t seem to matter to him at all. He’s another guy who stands very straight and proud.

“And the home of the brave.” We all sang it together…quietly…a little off key…. Little Raquel, my Lady Wonder Wench, me with my jacket that says BROOKLYN across the front, and about 6,000 other people who just came to enjoy a nice spring training baseball game together.

It wasn’t a huge majestic sound. It was really kind of quiet…and a little off key. But it was…all of us…together. I don’t think any of us expected that.

There was an almost embarrassed moment of stunned silence. Then someone in the bleachers cut loose with one of those long, loud, two fingers between the teeth whistles, and the place exploded with applause, and laughs… more than a few tears…and so much pride. So much pride we felt at that moment…together.

You sometimes get a lot more than you expect when you go to a spring training baseball game. Yes. Thank you for asking. It was a very good vacation. 

DICK’S DETAILS QUIZ – All the answers are in the current PodCast at  .

1- What does a star fish have in common with many of our politicians ?

2- Why should you “go soak your head” ?

3- What should you do when your Love Boat springs a leak ?

Scoring – 3 right – You’re a Met.

2 right – You’re a Little Leaguer.

1 right – You’re working at a ball park concession.

0 right – You’re a Yankee.

REMEMBER – Middle age sneaks up on us like a windshield sneaks up on a bug in August. But Louie – Louie Generation guys know that wisdom and a few well worn moves can always defeat youth and skill. Well…almost always.

Would love to hear from you. 






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