Our final World Series in Boston post!

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2013

Stood up by the old Boston Braves: Fenway Park certainly makes a fantastic TV set.

When the camera peers in from center field, the fans behind home plate are so close that they seem to be handing you hot dogs. And then, good lord, those glorious walls!

From right center field all the way over, Fenway's walls are 17 or 37 feet high. With all those potential bounces!

With that in mind:

The best seat in baseball must be the one directly along the left field line, halfway up in the section. You’re maybe fifteen feet off the field, looking in at home plate. If you get the seat on the end, you can practically reach out over the foul line.

Over your shoulder, the Monster looms. You hear the clang of a wall ball.

That’s why we were so troubled by something we fact-checked this week. It concerned one of our sainted mother’s very few personal stories.

(For maximum effect, we recommend playing this Simon track while reading this post. When he mentions Clifton Chenier, just picture the man named below.)

When we were kids, our sainted mother would rarely let the secrets out. She did tell the story about the time she skated so far up the Merrimack that she couldn’t get back until long after dark. Also, there was the time she decided to go off the ski jump, then saw, just as she went airborne, that her own sainted mother was there.

This week, we finally decided to check her tale about the time she thought she got stood up.

In those days, Boston had two teams; it had the Red Sox and the Braves, who were sometimes called the Bees. On one rare occasion, our sainted mother recalled the time she was supposed to have a date with some guy from the Braves.

He was supposed to come by after the game, but several long hours passed. As it turned out, he had a valid excuse, she said—the game that day turned out to be one of the longest games in major league history!

These days, you can check these things out! We’ll be darned if this 23-inning groaner from June 1939 doesn’t qualify.

We decided to check the Braves’ roster. This helped clear up another old tale, though it raised a new point of concern.

When we were kids, our sainted mother told us a story one time about Casey Stengel. He said he liked her because his wife’s name was Edna, just like hers, our sainted mother said.

In retrospect, it didn’t exactly make sense, but we always pictured that happening when Stengel was running the Yankees. But hold on! Here’s Casey listed as the manager of that ’39 Braves aggregation!

We had never put that one together. Finally, it got cleared up.

Here’s the problem:

Just look at the total attendance for that 1939 Braves team: 285,994. The Bees’ per-game attendance was less than 4000 that year!

Eventually, that kind of attendance drove the Braves out of town. Boston had long since made its choice. In part because of Fenway Park, it was a Red Sox town.

Two stories were firmed, but a problem arose. As it turned out, that late arriving Boston Brave had a good solid excuse after all.

But people! Why was our mother dating a guy from such an unpopular ball club?

(We recommend playing this Paul Simon track while reading this post. When Simon mentions Clifton Chenier, just picture Casey Stengel instead.)

Point of correction: We made a mistake in our previous post about the remarkably cruel Harry “The Cat” Brecheen. In fact, we took our revenge in 1959, when we were only eleven!

Baseball is part of Boston culture. It’s time we all figured that out.

A musical suggestion: We recommend playing this Paul Simon track while reading this highly evocative post.

When Simon mentions Clifton Chenier, just substitute Casey Stengel. It’s just about our favorite song, about an important subject.

23 comments:

  1. Oh Bob.

    Back in the other thread, some of us asked why you would call Harry Brecheen "one of the cruelest men in baseball history" which is quite an accusation. I was hoping your "correction" was that you got him confused with the other Cardinal hero of the '46 World Series, Enos Slaughter. Instead, you again call Brecheen "remarkably cruel" with no explanation.

    I would also point out that yes, indeed, Boston Bees attendance did tank in 1939. So did attendance across baseball during the Depression and the War.

    After the war, there was a great boom in baseball attendance, including the Boston Braves, who drew over 1 million fans for three straight years and over 900,000 for the two years bookending those three. And against in-town competition from some very good Red Sox teams.

    Those were the "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain" years which include a National League pennant in 1948.

    Then with the introduction of television, baseball attendance began to dry up again, and teams in multi-team towns were especially effected. Hence, the move of the Braves to Milwaukee, the Browns to Baltimore, and the Athletics to Kansas City.

    The wild success of the relocated teams, and the introduction of a jet airliner, also gave Walter O'Malley the idea to move to the West Coast and bring Horace Stoneham and the New York Giants with him.

    Finally, on a personal note from a person living in "flyover country," it always amuses me when an East Coast team wins a sports championship, and their fans wax rhapsodic as if it were divinely ordained as part of a plan to restore order to the universe.

    Yes, Boston is a great baseball city and the Red Sox are a great team. But you know what? So are the city and the team the Red Sox just beat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now he's gone to calling Brecheen "remarkably cruel."

      Delete
  2. I don't remember ever hearing that song before. So nice I played it twice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's off Simon's very famous and best-selling "Graceland" album. He paid tribute to various forms of music that is in the very broad "world music" genre, with particular attention to Latin and African rhythms and idioms.

      This particular song is a tribute to zydeco. And I'm having trouble with Casey Stengel as "the King of the Bayou."

      Delete
  3. M'appel Fou. Mi nombre Clifton Chenier.
    They call me crazy. My name is Clifton Chenier.
    Check out his great album "Bogalusa Boogie" with his Red Hot Louisiana Band, and listen closely for his brother Cleveland Chenier on the "rub board". Rhythms.

    Life without music? I can't cope.

    Thanks Bob for mentioning The great Clifton Chenier.

    LG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob doesn't mention Chenier. Simon does, and Bob tells you to substitute Casey Stengel.

      We can only guess what the hell he is talking about, since he doesn't make his point very well.

      Delete
    2. Bob does not mention Clifton Chenier. He mentions that Paul Simon mentions Chenier. Oh My! OK. My apologies

      Clifton Chenier and his Red Hot Louisiana Band are Great.

      LG

      Delete
    3. I'm not sure Bob knows Clifton Chenier from Tony Clifton.

      Delete
    4. Who the fuck is Tony Clifton?

      LG

      Delete
    5. Guess you're not an Andy Kauffman fan.

      Delete
    6. No. Not a fan of whiners.

      LG

      Delete
  4. One section of Braves Field is still standing, as part of Nickerson Field at Boston University. The Braves themselves left town long before I was old enough to see them, but I was lucky enough to catch one of the annual tours of Braves Field given by the head of the Boston Braves fan club. That was a few years ago and I don't think they have that tour anymore.

    ReplyDelete
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