Archive for the ‘Unsortable Prayers’ Category


Bullpen Buggy

May 17, 2022

What’s your favorite souvenir? Mine was probably what you see here, or a version of it: a cheap plastic replica of the bullpen cart used in the 1970s by the New York Mets.

I wish I still had it. I’m drawn to the toys I played with as a kid. They helped me then, and I’m still looking to them now. That’s I guess what’s going on with the Worcester Birds, my ongoing attempt to cope with life, with stress, anxiety, grief, white nationalist terrorism, fascism, climate failure, etc.


Anyway, I’ve placed the Worcester Birds in Shea Stadium, in part because it was, in 1977, a very tough place to get a hit, which I hoped would be a help to Mark Fidrych (it has: he’s been good at home, shaky on the road), and in part because it was where my father took my brother and me to see baseball, and where he once bought me a plastic bullpen buggy toy. I’ve written plenty about those days at Shea. Here’s a bit from an old article I wrote about it and some other stuff on Baseball Prospectus:

When I think of my own father beside my brother and me, the three of us in the predominantly empty stands of Shea Stadium during a Mets game in the 1970s, I see an uncomfortable bespectacled sociologist suffering in his blue, long-sleeve, button-down shirt through a day of things he disliked or even despised: subway rides, baseball, crowds, mid-summer humidity, sunburn, gross profiteering, noise pollution, air pollution, garbage, stenches, drunkards, dolts, loudmouths, slobs, the masses, the various and sundry opiates of the masses, and, last but not least, presumably, the idea, supported by the ample evidence of his offspring’s contrarily enthusiastic orientation toward many of these miseries, that one or both of his sons might grow up to live a life of meaningless escapist diversion.

During our once-a-year visits to see him in his book-glutted studio apartment in Manhattan, he dragged us to museums and subtitled foreign films, hoping we’d take to the finer creations of the human mind, but we generally saw them as crucibles to labor through so that we could get to the payoff of huge greasy slices at Ray’s on 11th Street and whatever installment of The Pink Panther was in theaters and, most of all, a trip on the groaning 7 Train to Shea. Our father complied with this arrangement. At Shea, besides grimacing and jabbing his fingers into his ears every time one in the unending stream of screaming LaGuardia jets passed just above our heads, Dad didn’t complain. He let us be fans . . .

At Shea in the late 1970s, a pitching change by the home team was facilitated by the use of a small electric cart that was shaped like a giant baseball with a giant Mets cap. The cart moved slowly across the outfield grass carrying the likes of Skip Lockwood or Bob Apodaca as meandering organ music played. I loved it. During one of our visits to Shea, my father bought me a palm-sized plastic replica of this bullpen cart. Even when the game was still going on, I could barely take my eyes off of it. I remember riding the subway home from Shea that day, rolling the little plastic baseball-cap cart up and down my Toughskins lap. Of all the things that ever came to me, it might have been my favorite souvenir.


Worcester Birds game notes:

  • G46: W 4-3 (Fidrych 6-3)
    • Fidrych hangs tough through 8, and Soderholm gets key hit in comeback rally in 5th
  • G47: L 19-8
    • The Crash Test Dummies, Stanley and Mingori, take a beating (combining to allow 25 baserunner and 16 runs in 7.1 innings)
  • G48: L 5-1
    • Lineup baffled by Rudy May; Forster takes the loss
  • G49: W 7-3
    • Tiant allows 3 in first but holds opposing lineup (featuring Schmidt, Foster, and Bench) scoreless for the following 8 innings for a complete game win; Soderholm stars again (3-3 with HR and 3 RBI); Boisclair also homers
  • G50: L 13-9
    • Dixon is battered, wasting a big outing from the offense
  • G51: W 9-5 (Fidrych 7-3)
    • Bostock homers twice, Boisclair goes 4 for 4 for his third straight multihit game, and Fidrych soldiers through all 9 for a complete game win.