Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Playoff Memories

The (heartbreaking) San Diego Padres are scheduled to play Game 2 against St. Louis tomorrow at Petco Park. Baseball playoff season always puts me in mind of the time I worked in Shea Stadium's office and was lucky enough to be smack in the center of playoff and World Series excitement.

Here's an excerpt from my book, Working Over Time, describing one such long-ago game day:

This year, 1973, was one in which the Mets made it into the playoffs at the
end of the season, and they proceeded to the World Series. It was the
waning era of day games. My office was located behind the press box.
It was a nice suite of offices, but there were no windows. We had the
radio on to listen to the game, but we kept hearing thunderous roars from the
crowd just yards from our door every time a play went our team’s way. We
took turns rushing out to the press box to check the action, but the game was
heating up and nobody wanted to miss any of it. In those prehistoric days,
before one could send all calls to automated greetings at the touch of a keypad,
somebody had to man the phones. That, of course, was my job. By the
second inning, everyone in my office had filtered into the press box to watch
the game. I was left with the occasionally ringing telephone and a severe
case of fan frustration at being left out of the baseball

This was a playoff game for the World Series, for heaven’s
sake, probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I told myself. I couldn’t
allow myself to miss it. Yet I would still need the job long after the
champagne corks had popped. My dilemma persisted; how could I watch the
game and continue to cover the phones?

Being young, determined, and
caught up in baseball fever, I hit upon a solution. What if the lines were
just plain busy? After all, it was World Series season, a naturally busy
time in our office. Could I possibly tie up all incoming lines to Shea
Stadium’s director’s office? I pushed in each of the four lines, one at a
time, popping them onto hold with a punch of the Big Red Button. Then I
went out to join my co-workers in the pressbox to watch the Amazing Mets battle
Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine.

If anyone was the wiser for my
shenanigans, no one ever said a word to me.


For old time's sake, I always find myself pulling for the Mets when they make it to October ball. I'm especially enjoying this year, when the Mets are playing those arch rivals of the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers.