Monday, October 24, 2011

Once Upon a Time in the Bronx Part II

New York City!
Come for a ballgame, stay for a show, meet the hookers, run away from the rats!
    As we slowly inched through traffic south of the George Washington Bridge, I grew more excited.  Even though dilapidated apartment buildings and ruined factories hung over the highway like buzzards, I knew Yankee Stadium would soon come into view like Emerald City.
    As we descended the exit ramp, legions of homeless men armed with plastic bottles, flimsy squeegees, and wadded-up newspapers pounced on the cars ahead of us.  Hoping to get a couple of dollars for smearing yellow-colored liquid across windshields, they worked the line like an Indy pit crew with shopping carts of empty cans.
    “Wash yer windshield, mister?”
Urine comes extra
    Mr. Spagnoula dug into his front pocket.
    “Dad!” Spags protested.
    Handing over a dollar to one of the “Squeegee Boys,” he admitted, “Better than getting spit on.  Or worse.”
    After reducing our visibility to near zero, the aromatic civic servant gave us a toothless grin and dirty thumbs up.  He then shuffled off to his next “customer.”
    “There now, that wasn’t so bad,” Mr. Spagnoula cheerily said.  “Nobody got killed or peed on.”
Fans 14 and Older Get Bludgeoned and Robbed...
oops, sorry, that's Yankee Stadium 2011
    As he said this, my attention was drawn to the imposing structure which suddenly emerged from squalor.  The House That Ruth Built was surrounded by dozens of souvenir vendors who hawked pretzels, wooden bats, giant foam fingers, and those obnoxious plastic air trumpets to hordes of baseball fan lemmings.
    Mr. Spagnoula looked askance at the various unshaven men trying to entice us to park in their lots-for a hefty price, of course.
    “Jesus H. Christmas,” he said.  Quickly looking at the dashboard, he apologetically patted the little statue.  “No offense.”
    Giggling to himself, he turned down a side street.
    “I’m not paying some guy a fortune when we could park out here.”
    “You sure about this, Dad?”  Spags asked as we crept down a gloomy street.
    “Sure, there’s no way-aha!” he happily said as he wedged the beetle between a panel truck and a spray-painted van with plywood for windows.
    As we piled out of the car onto the garbage strewn street, I wasn’t really worried.  A parking space was a parking space, after all.  Still, the quiet of the street and absence of any people was a little creepy.
    Oh, well, we had a ball game to see!

    Even though our seats were way out in right field, they really weren’t bad.  Despite the fact we needed binoculars to see anyone at the plate, at least we were at field level.  Plus, we stood a good chance of snagging any foul balls which came our way.
    No sooner had we settled in than Mr. Spagnoula leapt up, clapped his hands, and announced, “Well, now that I know where I’m sitting, I gotta go buy me some peanuts and crackers, Jack!”
    We heard him cackling as he disappeared down the tunnel.
    “He sure likes to make jokes, huh?”
    Spags laughed, “Yeah, he cracks himself up.  Hey, where’s Donny?”
    I saw the brain-damaged Red Sox fan hanging over the outfield wall, taunting outfielders shagging batting practice flies.
Because I'd get sued if I used
a picture of a good ballplaye
    “Swoboda!  You couldn’t catch a cold in a freezer!” 
    Concerned for his safety, we joined him at the wall.
    “Murcer!  You couldn’t hit your IQ!”
    When a high fly dropped behind one of the ballplayers, Donny was merciless.  “Heyyyy, Ron, I seen better hands on a pool cue!”
    The crowd gasped as a huge fly rocketed into the corner.  Just as it was going to sail into the stands, a sudden gust of wind swirled in and pushed it down.  After rattling in the shadows, it ricocheted back onto the grass.
    One of the players squared off to scoop it up.
    With a sudden “Oh, no you don’t!” Donny boosted himself over the wall and dropped to the field.
    We looked, aghast, as he quickly snapped up the baseball.  Ignoring the flabbergasted ballplayers around him, he proudly held it up.
    “Look what I got!”
    “Hey, kid!  Stay right there!”
    Donny looked to his right.  Three stadium cops were charging down the foul line.  His mouth formed a silent ‘O’ and he jammed the ball into his front pocket.
    Before darting across center field.
    Amazed, I said, “Not really the direction I would have chosen.”
    “Yeah, but look on the bright side,” Spags said, “now we don’t have to listen to him run his mouth.”   
What they wanted to do,
but couldn't...
...because they looked like this.
    “Stop, kid, stop!” the cops shouted.  But, the closer he got to the left field wall, the farther they fell behind.  Their dash reduced to a jog, they watched helplessly as Donny nimbly jumped on top of the outfield wall and disappeared into the crowd.
    “Hey, guys, catch any foul balls?”
    Mr. Spagnoula trudged down the aisle, laden with six hot dogs, a huge bag of peanuts, and carrying case of sodas.       
    “Where’s your friend?”
    “Oh, he, uh, had to go to the bathroom.” Spags answered.  “Said he was holding it in the whole trip.”
    “Shoulda said something,” Mr. Spagnoula said as he shoved a hot dog in his mouth, “Coulda taken a whiz on the turnpike.”
    As he said this, I watched Donny emerge from a tunnel on the other side of the park.  Taking take two steps at a time, he lunged toward the upper left field deck, six more cops in pursuit.
    It was going to be a long game.

To be continued (but, I think you knew that already)....

Next:  Some people do like ketchup on their hot dogs.  Plus: some creative reworking of history!


  1. Great story! looking forward to the next installment!

  2. Excellent story as usual buddy. I look forward to hearing the rest of this. You're an excellent writer and you seem to have a lot of experience to share to us in posts like this.

  3. "Jesus H. Christmas" - never heard that one before but I like it.

  4. this is quite awesome i must say, haha

  5. @Robyn: I presume the 'H' stood for 'Holy.' Or 'Herschel.' I mean, he was Jewish, after all.
    @Tony: Just another night in the Big City.
    @Cary: It is one of my favorite cities, though. The sights, the sounds, the smell of subway vomit in July...... Seriously, I really do like the Big Apple. I just make sure I wash my hands. God, I just can't stop, can I?

  6. hahahaha loved it, laughed at the pic in your header too.

  7. @Yeamie: Experiences are what you get a lot of when you're old. Sadly, very few of them involve nudity. Except that one time in a mobile home park's swimming pool on a Sunday afternoon.......
    @Eva: Wednesday, Part III. Actual game action. Are you liking that this is a story about an actual Yankees-Red Sox game?
    @Tony: Thanks! Hope you stay around for the conclusion (the final chapter is Friday-just before my Halloween posts).
    @Biff: Great blog name, by the way.

  8. Watching to see how this story develops.

  9. Urine comes extra? Hilarious.

  10. i like the "run away from the rats" part.
    the characters in this one are great. or maybe it's just your memory of them... hard to say, mr story teller man.

  11. Loving your story. I haven't seen a Red Sox game since the Babe played. Well, nearly. :) A bit of husband was bat-boy when the Babe was playing.

  12. Fantastic! The characters, the place, the feel, the whole thing!
    I wish I could have gone to Yankee Stadium when I was a kid. Even though I was a dedicated Dodger fan, my favorite player was alway Mickey Mantle, still is...

  13. @Pat: Mrs. Penwasser refused to take that picture. Luckily, I have a friend with a similar sense of humor.
    @AC: Hope you like how it turns out. Teaser: we haven't seen the last of Plastic Jesus.
    @dbs: Sometimes, free of charge.
    @Sherilin: Rats as big as cats. And, they carried guns. Don't F with the rats.
    @Manzanita: That is sooo neat.
    @Pat Tillet: Dodgers did play in Brooklyn, though. I have an autographed picture of Mickey Mantle. It was in a bar. But.....still.

  14. hahaha. Wow...I have never ever considered jumping onto a field...they taze your ass here in Philly! haha. I cannot wait for the end of this one.

    Ps...a bit of an "award" for you at my place. :)

  15. And I remember exactly when that happened!
    Tasers=the Great Equalizer For Fat Stadium Cops

  16. Mrs B took me to a Mets game for my 40th birthday and then sat in horror when she realised that each team came out more than twice to bat (hardly cricket, old boy) - she was close to a coma when it was all square after nine innings and nearly died when one of the fans around us explained that the game would continue until one side had a lead. After 14 innings someone told her that they had once been at a game which went to 36 innings, she started to panic so I took pity on her and we left early.

    I never did find out the final score or admit to Mrs B that I would rather have seen the Yankees rather than the Mets.... still being a big Beatles fan it was great to see Shea Stadium..

    I was sad to hear it got demolished in 2009.

  17. As I've said here before, baseball is a PERFECT sport for those who like to take naps.
    I went to a 21 inning game at Yankee Stadium wayyyyy back when. The Yankees won it when Willie Randolph hit a home run. I'm shocked that I remember this because this was back before they stopped selling beer after the 7th inning. Yep. We were loaded.
    Shea-replaced by Citi Field.
    Old Yankee Stadium-replaced by New Yankee Stadium