The Blagosphere is rife with stories of strange connections. One of my first ones involved attending two events, 42 years apart.
Paid Flickr subscribers receive daily “view counts” of their photographs, which list the sites from which the hits are made. Most come from Flickr, with others mainly from Google and Yahoo image searches. In late 2008, I found hits from a blog, “The Languorous Dilettante,” containing links to photos I’d taken at the last game in Comiskey Park and during its destruction the following year in the post, “Section 39 in the Bronx.”
This article described how a 12-year-old lad attended a White Sox-Yankees game with his father on a cold April 19, 1967, in Comiskey Park. Although the boy lived in the south suburbs, from that day on, he wrote, he became a Yankees fan. It seemed logical, therefore, for the 53-year-old man to travel from Washington, D.C. to New York City to see the final White Sox-Yankees game at Yankee Stadium, just four games before The Stadium would close.
Although the box score states the attendance for the 1967 game was 3,040, I can tell you there weren’t more than 350 people in the park. My father had checked into the hospital the night before for routine varicose vein surgery and my mother went into the city that morning to be with him. Ditching school (it was a Wednesday), my friend Andy and I drove to Comiskey Park, where we purchased general-admission tickets and proceeded to sit right next to the Sox dugout. It was about 40 degrees that day, but the sun kept us relatively warm. I quickly got over my fear that my father would see us on TV in the sparse crowd.
It was quiet, to say the least. We could hear third-base umpire Frank Umont singing the National Anthem, the infield chatter and Sox third-baseman Don Buford yelling back at the hecklers in front of us. Long about the third inning, the sun went behind the grandstand, which taught me a Comiskey Park lesson: right field is the sun field. We moved to the lower deck, where virtually all of the fans had migrated.
The Yankees won, 3-0, as Whitey Ford scattered seven hits in what would be his second-to-last victory. Tommy John gave up one earned run and took the loss. Mickey Mantle, by then a first-baseman, went 0-5. I would see him play one more time, the following year at my first visit to Yankee Stadium.
My last visit to Yankee Stadium (I can’t bring myself to call the present incarnation by the same name) was September 18, 2008, the final game there between the White Sox and Yankees. The Sox lost that one too, although my thoughts turned to college football, not baseball, as I made my final exit: my parents, married one year, were among 70,000 fans attending the Army-Illinois game there on October 7, 1947. It ended in a 0-0 tie.
Although the blog did not contain an author link and Stephen Thompson is a fairly common name, I found an e-mail address that seemed to be the guy. I wrote, “If you are the author of ‘The Languorous Dilettante,’ I’m willing to bet everything I own that you and I are the only two persons alive who attended White Sox-Yankees games on April 19, 1967, and September 18, 2008.” It was indeed him. Steven pointed out that back in those days, if you told the teacher you were going to miss school to spend the day with your father, consent was always given. He doesn’t remember whether he told her they would be attending a baseball game.