Love, Baseball, Heartbreak, Suicide, Music, 1986
"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhhhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come." Terrence Mann ( Field of Dreams)
Warning. This post is all about baseball memories, music memories and life memories. And proof you can't Google and/ Youtube everything.
Even though I am a huge Alan Parsons Project fan I have seldom blogged about their music. I am sitting on my bed watching Game 7 of this year's World Series and my thoughts returned to a Game 7, twenty five years ago and also to a record I bought that year.
The 1986 Baseball season was memorable. Back then you only made the post season if you won your division and there were only two divisions per league. The four division races if I recall correctly were cakewalks. No drama at all. Should I stumble at all with my 25 year old memories I apologize in advance. This is a memory piece and not a factual one. I just have to be a in a zone to write this.
Once the National and American League Championship series started the baseball gods reciprocated for that lack of drama in the regular season. The Boston Red Sox were down to their last strike to the then California Angels and came back to win the series. Some notes about that Angels team. It had Reggie Jackson, who most will remember as a Yankee and an A. It was managed by Gene Mauch who was also the skipper of one of the legendary regular season collapses in baseball history. 1964, even I was not alive my dad was and was going to school in Philadelphia during the time of that choke. Donnie Moore was the closer for the Angels.
Donnie Moore was to the 86 Angels what Mitch Wild Thing Williams was to the 1993 Phillies. Donnie Moore though committed suicide. That's why every time I hear Mitch talk to Dan Patrick on the radio I am so glad he moved on with his life and entertains and informs us baseball fans still. He put his World Series moment into perspective saying that's baseball and it is. Pitched balls do get hit sometimes. Although Mitch's life took a different path than Donnie, the forever classy Philadelphia fans hoped it took that same path issuing numerous death threats.
My dad told me that Gene Mauch story three decades ago. Sports used to be our bonding. Even before we moved moved to North America he had a subscription to Sports Illustrated in the 70s. Which got me curious about football and baseball. There was a stretch before we would always watch the Orange Bowl New Years night. Now he only watches basketball. NBA and Ateneo. Other than that he has a Huang track mind. Cue the song.
Earlier that year I bought the Alan Parsons Project record Stereotomy. At the time I had all the records they put out and that was the ninth. It had all the usual ear candy and excellent melodies I have come to expect from the Alan Parson Project. I remember holding in my arms a ten month old Joseph who was crying then he shut up when he heard the sound effects of a car starting up and driving away. Babies can be so hilarious.
I don't really like looking for dirt but I make exception for two topics. William Shatner and the 1986 New York Mets. A book that was good for that was authored by George Takei. As for the Mets The Bad Guys Won by gives you all the dirt you would want and then some. It's behind the scenes look at a wildly successful season. Yes the Mets won but they were never close again. the 1986 Mets remind me of Led Zeppelin at their peak. They both reached the highest high but then look at what happened to the individuals since: Dykstra, Strawberry ,Carter, Backman, Gooden, Ojeda. All of them struck by extreme tragedy self inflicted or otherwise.
A lot of people love the rankings thing. But it's all subjective and since it is, it should be about memories and not competition. It should be about love and not about comparing. The 1986 World Series definitely had memories: The Skydiver, The Curse, Bill Buckner, DARYLLLLL from the Fenway Faithful, the inept Sox Bullpen. It was personally memorable for me because I had my wisdom teeth taken out at that time and was tortured watching baseball because of one thing. Wendy's released a new sandwich called the Big Classic and decided to let Canada know about it every single commercial break during the World Series. My diet consisted of mashed potatoes, pudding and chicken soup at the time.
When I began this entry it was still about the 4th inning or so of Game 7 but I was already getting deja vu of 1986 and the Mets /Red Sox. I was for the Rangers but congrats to the better 2011 story which was the Cards. Written off in mid September but they battled back.
I am sure when every sports season ends, there is a montage wrap up song of how the respective final went. Some of them more memorable than others. When the 1986 World Series ended NBC chose a song off of Stereotomy. Alan Parson Project is the official artist name but those of us Projectiles ( my own invented nickname for Alan Parsons Project nuts) know the beauty of an Alan Parsons Project album is that anybody can be singing or playing in it as long as it is appropriate. Singers on APP albums that you will recognize are Christopher Cross, Alan Clarke (Hollies) , Arthur Brown (Crazy World of Arthur Brown), David Pack (Ambrosia) and Colin Blunstone (The Zombies).
Limelight was the song NBC chose from Stereotomy with Gary Brooker (Procul Harum famous for Conquistador) on vocals. Hard to believe that in 1986 I was barely 3 years into hard core Alan Parsons mania. I was already familiar with the song. I had no idea how iconic the World Series I just saw was going to be. No idea. But I got even a better appreciation for Limelight because those images of the 86 Series still played in my head with the song. I only saw the video once. Never video taped it with our Betamax. It is not available on Youtube and others only mention it on Google. This is my plea for anyone who happens to have it (1986 World Series montage of Limelight) to upload it somewhere or send it to me.
Key lyrics of the video (with significance in parenthesis) include:
- "Maybe this day could be the one "( The Red Sox at that point had not won the Series since 1919 and would not win it till 2004)
- "Calling my name Shouting out loud" ( Daryll Strawberry being pestered by the Fenway fans)
- "Limelight don't let it slip right through your fingers There's a long way to fall" (Google Bill Buckner 1986 World Series read about the toll on his personal life)
- "I can hear the beat of a different drum" (There was only one 1986 Mets. Read the Bad Guys Won and you will think twice, thrice about worshipping any athlete)
It started this morning watching baseball. A baseball game played October 29, 2011 (in my time zone) brought out 25 year old memories in me. And as Terrence Mann has said so eloquently it has marked the time. It just so happens I was in a text conversation this morning with a good friend of mine. She was talking about the idea of blogging for money. Instinctively I responded that I blogged for love. What I mean by that is that my blog is the way it is because I truly believe the one thing I can be better than anybody else is me. Like I said in the title page of my home page I truly get what John Labatt once said "An honest brew makes it's own friends". Don't be contrived and be yourself. If that means most don't understand you don't let that get in the way of what you believe and what you feel and what you want to say. You stick to the constants of your life as Terrence Mann says, you write what you feel and in some cases you are writing with tears in your eyes, people will come. Once in a while you will get a private message telling you that they themselves felt what you felt and did not know anyone else felt that way.
I have been saying in my Twitter ever since the baseball postseason started that myopic people who only care about a bouncing orange ball sport missed out on classic baseball drama. And they deserve to. Their ignorance is their own prison cell. Arrogant attitude maybe. But damn I love baseball. Ken Burns did not do an 11 part documentary on basketball. He did it on baseball. A. Bartlett Giamatti was not the commissioner of basketball, he was the commissioner of baseball. Chick Hern is a legend but Vin Scully is a unique legend.
Part of the Terrence speech was about recapturing memories and baseball just happened to be the medium. Watching the World Series today I was recapturing a time in my life. Things I felt. Many that were not in Google or Youtube. But they existed just the same. Once in a while, remind yourself of that.