Back in Time – Memories from the BallPark
Growing up, my mother had direct access to golden box seats along the 3rd baseline at Comiskey Park. It enabled Chorizy-E, Beefloaf, and myself to attend many Sox games. We even got to see Jordan take BP with the Sox back in the day. Eventually Comiskey was demolished, and “New Comiskey” was built, but those Golden Box seats remained, just without the sweet yellow rails. 4th row behind the Sox dugout was still there for us.
Where I am going with this, is one of my fondest baseball memories. It was Spring of 91, our 7th grade year, and our impressionable middle school minds were about to be blown. Coming home that day from school, I knew I had one thing for homework, study for a Social Studies test. But upon arrival at home, I was given new plans, Sox vs Orioles on a Wednesday in April. I called Chorizy and Beefloaf, and we were set for the night. I’m not sure I need to state the obvious, but no studying was going to take place.
We showed up just before game time and just in time to see journeyman Charlie Hough trot in from the bullpen. It’s true that time waxes nostalgic, because I remember Hough being only 71 when he pitched for the Sox, but I digress. Going back to look at the box score, there are some O’s that I completely forgot about. Joe Orsulak was in left, and Dwight Evans and his sweet stance were in right. Brady Anderson had yet to start “swinging early” like Joey Bats, so his power wasn’t there. The Sox would lose 5-1, but that’s not the part we all remember fondly.
There were four college kids sitting directly behind us. They were definitely drunk, and definitely 108 material. I’d like to walk you through the greatness that was April 24, 1991.
The Sox take the field, which prompts one member of the group to exclaim, Fuck Tim Raines, he’s making $100 million dollars for nothing. That didn’t seem right, but we believed them. SN, he made about $14.5M. At that moment, Raines was the most overpaid athlete in all of sports.
Same inning, Anderson is on first, and the spry Hough shows us 3 different pickoff moves. Each move slower than the previous. I remember saying how could anyone get picked off by this old fuck? Well, throw #4 catches Anderson leaning, and we see a P-1B-2B CS. That may have been Hough’s only pickoff ever.
3rd Inning, and the college guys are more lubricated, and the 3rd one in is upset that the Orioles had just taken a 2-0 lead on a Joe Orsulak double. He exclaims that he needs outfielders with balls. In fact, he wants to buy himself a Ball State sweatshirt just so everyone knows that he has balls. Because of this, I owned a Ball State hoodie in college. I did not attend Ball State.
4th inning, and the O’s tack on 2 more. Hough is replaced by something called a Wayne Edwards. The college guys comment that Hough possibly died and that was why he was replaced. It seemed like a legitimate call, and we all believed them until we saw Hough pitch for the Marlin. Sure he pitched for the Sox again that year and next, but we just assumed it was a hologram like Tupac.
7th inning, the three of us were introduced to the gold standard, the four guys behind us made a beer run and came back with 4 apiece for the last 1/3rd of the game. (Thanks to mom for remembering this.) One member of the group behind us proceeds to tell the Pirate joke that has always stayed with us. Here it is in its entirety:
A new crewman comes aboard a pirate ship, and the captain shows up with a peg leg, a hook on his right hand, and a patch over one eye. The captain warns the new crewman of the dangers of being a pirate. The newbie asks the captain how he lost his leg. The captain replies ” argh, I was fighting a shark, and it bit my leg off before I could kill it.” The crewman then asks how he lost his hand, the captain replied “yargh, fishing line wrapped around my wrist and cut off my hand.” Jesus the crewman thought, well how did you lose your eye? The captain responded with “a bird shit in it.” The crewman said, bird shit wouldn’t take out your eye. The captain replies ” yarrrrrgh, it be the first day I had me hook.”
On the surface, an OK joke, but for all of us, it was comedic gold. So much so, that over 25 years later, I remember it all.
The Sox eventually scored a run in the ninth and the group behind us celebrated like it was the Pods walk off, but that was all the scoring that would happen. I looked back at the box score to see that it was none other than our fearless leader Robin Ventura who had the RBI. It also came to my attention that Donn Pall pitched the 9th. I’m sure he celebrated his scoreless 9th with some blow somewhere in the Bridgeport area.
The next day, we went back to our day job of school so we could take that SS test. Fun fact, both Beefloaf and I failed the test. Our teacher asked me if I had even studied, I replied with “No, but do you want to hear a great pirate joke?”