I don’t love The Yankees. My heart was ripped out a couple of week ago. I’m not referring to the ER post. I’m referring to game 4 of the NLCS. We (The Dodgers) were so close. I’ve been wanting to do a baseball post since April. We even did this Baseball Promo (shown above) piece which we never sent out. It’s now one day after the Yankees won their 27th World Series. Another season has gone by. Baseball like no other sport takes in account the season. You start in the spring and end in the fall with melancholic winter weather looming on the horizon. Just read The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
I don’t hate the Yankees. Growing up in Ft. Lauderdale, I used to be a huge Yankee fan. They played their spring training games here and I remember going to the games as a kid with my mom and dad and brother. I loved the players names: Whitey Ford, Joe Pepitone, Mickey Mantle, Clete Boyer, Roger Maris to name a few. I was a kid and these were men with manly names. God, I wish I had my old baseball cards. Okay, this is where this post starts to shift to left field or more accurately the bull pen. The bull pen is where the pitchers warm up.
It’s 1971 and the Baltimore Orioles are playing the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. I’m 11 years old, and ride in a big yellow bus to Rickards Middle School. I got a transistor radio hidden amongst my books listening to Mr. Big Suff, A’int No Sunshine and to some of the baseball games. They played during the day back then. I was just amazed by Roberto Clemente and Brooks Robinson. They were my heroes.
The Oriole manager Earl Weaver was a different story. Besides being known for his embarrassing tirades with umpires, he was also intriguing to me for his tomato garden in the Oriole bullpen. I don’t know how I heard about this but apparently this hot head of a manager grew tomatoes in Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium. I think about this whenever I plant a tomato plant and smell that distinctive tomato plant smell. It brings baseball back to me. Last year while digging up info of Weaver and his tomatoes on the internet I happened upon this interesting article.
O’s groundskeeper Pat Santarone dies at 79
The tomato plants that grew at old Memorial Stadium, and the competitions between head groundskeeper Pat Santarone and manager Earl Weaver that sprouted along with them, are almost as legendary as any championships that were won. Santarone died unexpectedly Tuesday at his home in Hamilton, Mont. He was 79.
“Pat and I were very close. He was the best man at my wedding,” Weaver said. “And he meant a lot to Memorial Stadium. He was just like a part of that park itself.”
Santarone, who served as head groundskeeper from 1969 to 1991, died in his sleep of natural causes.
We always plant tomatoes in our summer garden. They never do too well. Maybe it’s because we don’t get enough full sun in our yard. Or maybe it’s because June is usually foggy in Santa Monica. Also, we are usually on Kauai during most of the harvesting time. I don’t plant Heirloom tomatoes like a lot of people lately. I’m all for more traditional tomatoes like Beef Master, Early Girl or just plain Cherry Tomatoes. Do you think Earl Weaver would plant tomatoes with names like Brandywine, Cherokee Purple or Green Zebras? I don’t friggin’ think so.