Monday, August 15, 2005


Editor's Note: Today my mother, Penny Craven takes over the blog. While my mother can maintain a certain level of distance from the game--she is, for example, able to fall asleep during relatively close playoff games whereas I am hardly able to breathe during relatively close playoff games--in her own way, she is exactly as large a fan as my father and I. Like all fans, she has suffered disappointments with her team on the field, in this case, quite literally.

August 15th, 1959

I Fail to Meet Mickey Mantle

I was a huge Yankees fan as a little kid. My father grew up in the Bronx, not far from Yankee Stadium; he and my grandmother were both avid fans and, like my son Richard, I grew up with the Yankees in my blood.

My father owned a film production company. One of his early jobs was producing a “Visiting Heads of State” series, documenting the visits of assorted princes, presidents and prime ministers including, in 1959, Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia and the Shah of Iran. Whether they requested it or were merely following a set itinerary, many of these visiting dignitaries ended up at a Yankee game in New York, meeting the players and strolling on the field.

To my great delight, a few days after my 9th birthday, my father invited me to come to the stadium with him during one of these shoots, promising a visit to the dugout. I arrived bursting with anticipation, sporting a large button of my favorite player, Mickey Mantle. Dodging the ushers, I ran down the steps to the field, and my father lifted me over the fence.

Instead of heading for the Yankee dugout, however, I was led, inexplicably, in the other direction. Even at 9, I knew I didn’t want to meet the Red Sox but I was given no choice. As my father blithely chatted with Ted Williams, the manager, whose name I have totally blanked out forever, dutifully led me through the dugout and I politely if unenthusiastically shook hands with the team members sitting there. Still hoping to meet the Yankees, I tugged my father away but too late, the game was about to start and we were escorted off the field.

I never did meet Mickey Mantle, or any of the Yankees for that matter, but I’ve never stopped cheering for them. I’ll always root for the home team in another ball park (providing they’re not playing the Yankees, of course). But the Yankees are my team, first, best, and always.

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