Important lesson: learning to hate the Yankees

It's clear when I received my education. It was in Beaverton, and it was delivered with one pitch.
It's clear when I received my education. It was in Beaverton, and it was delivered with one pitch.

With the New York pin-stripers playing, and probably winning, in Seattle through Sunday (July 11), hundreds, perhaps thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of local baseball aficionados no doubt will strain what's left of their memories to try to recall just how long they've hated the damned Yankees.

I already know. My enmity goes back to the afternoon of Oct. 13, 1960, when Ralph Terry left one in the limited wheelhouse of Pittsburgh second-baseman Bill Mazeroski, who, with one swing, gave the Pirates the world championship, bought Maz an otherwise undeserved berth in the Baseball Hall of Fame and, not least of all .  . .

Lost me 50 cents to Bobby Allard. I've hated the Bronx Bummers ever since.

It was an era when, evidently, there was so little going on that World Series games were played during the day. They were broadcast on live TV but it wasn't, of course, with high-def reception. Many followed the "spectacle" by radio, which is what we did — tried to do — in seventh-grade class at Sunset Valley School near Beaverton, Oregon. Alas, "small" transistor radios were of a size to make them about as inconspicuous as a saddle on a banana slug.

During recesses we'd try to keep track of the epic seven-game series by huddling up in the custodians' quarters, where a kindred-spirit janitor let us listen to radio broadcasts. Loyalties that year seemed split about evenly between Pirates' partisans and those who yearned for the Yankees to win the series for what seemed to be the 12th time in 11 years.

I shouldn't have bet Allard. He was either lucky or savvy or both but he always seemed to win.

Anyway, he loved Roberto Clemente and the rest of the Pirates and, conveniently, his family lived but two blocks from school grounds. The plan, then, was to leave school surreptitiously and sprint down the street to his house where, with no parents to supervise, we could watch the ending of the seventh game.

It would've worked perfectly were it not for the fact that the game — some of a certain age regard it as the greatest Fall Classic finale ever — wouldn't wait for us. We got his folks' black-and-white Zenith warmed up just in time to see what has to become one of the most iconic sequences in sports: Maz gymnastically rounding the bases to end the 10-9 marathon and give Pittsburgh the series.

The next day I read in the (Portland) Oregonian about how my once-peerless, soon-to-be former heroes Mickey, Yogi, Casey, Whitey, Moose, et al, had wept in defeat.

Bobby Allard wasn't crying. He'd beaten not just me but several others out of allowance and lawn-mowing money and with it came the last laugh.

Well, the penultimate laugh. The last one regarding this particular incident came when he found out that, while my folks somehow found out about the truancy, his didn't.

Damn Yankees.


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