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My Time In Pepperland (Warning: Language) (1 Viewer)

grandbudda

Senior Member
I would love to get some feedback on my book. It's about a near death experience with a satirical twist.



PREFACE



In the end what is the sum total of our lives? What is the worth of all of our experiences? What does one thing have to do with another? How is everything connected and are the dots that we connect random? I’m not going to suggest that if you keep on reading that you will necessarily find the answers to these questions they’re just questions I’ve always had about life and that I no longer have.

Don’t look for an epiphany though just a story about my life and a collection of key events that are woven and connected to some historic and some hysterical events in history and pop culture.

Our journey starts at my birth and is woven through my childhood recollections of baseball, my teenage brush against a pop culture Icon and my search for political identity. The story continues with my honeymoon at age twenty one, my search to find career from Florida to Buffalo to Long Island and back home to Rochester, NY. Along the way my meetings with stars, future stars, people in power and the search for monetary gain. The trek that is my life brings us to travel with me meeting political figures and pop culture icons.

Newsmakers allow me to peer into my life from a different prospective especially when looking back through the eyes of a near death experience.

Finally, we find that as life takes me on my journey it’s revealed that in the end it’s family that counts.
Some friendships are bound together without thoughts of gain and create a village of protection for us. In the end what it comes down to is love. The love that God has for us and the love that we have for our family. The love that we have for our friends and the love that we have for ourselves and our expression of life.

I’m a rich man, although my current assets on this writing $6,900 in cash and my wife Shelly and I live with my father-in-law in a modest 3 bedroom home.
We are broke in cash, but rich in family and friends. The past seven years it’s been a struggle because of health reasons and business or financial reasons but through it all the one constant has been family, la famiglia as they say.

On an uneventful Saturday evening in April 2010 after some chitchat we sat down to watch a movie, the Blind Side which won the best picture award and supposedly was moving. The problem is I don’t remember the movie I don’t remember anything except that Shelly and I were there with my son Greg Jr. and his wife Lynn and we had our usual small talk and awesome steak sandwiches.

The rest of that night has somehow been lost in my consciousness as if somehow stripped away. I’m told that I enjoyed the movie, that it was terrific and that I felt it deserved the academy award. You see, when I fell asleep that night around 11 pm something happened on my way to 6am on Sunday morning April 25, 2010. I stopped breathing and for the next two weeks was in another place. It was real and not real, I guess, surreal as I drifted from place to place.


I was aware that I was inside a huge, infinite blackness. I wasn’t sure where this blackness was in relationship to a place or if it even existed in time and space, but for some reason I was strangely at peace. I now found myself in a new form, partly spirit and partly real, a strange feel but I still was me. How elated I felt! Now, out of my body, I had no worries, no cares. At that moment, an awareness overtook me, I am not in my physical body! My spirit was glowing with a white light that lit up everything and I moved through everything with great speed. I felt as if I were in a tunnel and that it was filled with an all consuming darkness, but I still felt peaceful and calm. I also had an awareness of total universal consciousness that somehow I was in touch and connected with everything in the universe.

I felt at once empowered and euphoric as I moved with great speed through the faces and times, streets and places of my life. I never wanted this feeling of utter control to leave or to stop. I had an almost instinctive realization that I was in contact with family and friends who were both alive and who were dead. That I could move from place to place and visit other times and people unrestricted by any physical laws of nature.

The realization in my being now was that I could be anywhere. That time and space stopped to be measured or bound. I was me and not me, part spirit, part flesh but all total consciousness. I can’t explain why or how this happened and I don’t care. In fact I’m just thankful that I could go on this trip and see what I will be able now to tell you about.


I wish you could take a trip like this and see what I saw and experience the full measure of what happened to me for two weeks between late April and early May 2010.

If a man could be measured by family and friends then I am a wealthy man. I have my four children, eight grandchildren, many in laws, nieces and nephews, cousins and other relatives. My close inner circle of friends and many other that could number in the hundreds of friends and acquaintances. Also, work related company that includes associates and staff people as well. I am a wealthy man indeed. This is my story and I’m thankful for the gift, thankful to God, to family and to friends.
 

jburden

Senior Member
I think this near-death story idea you have could be a really great story, but in reading this preface, it feels like you keep summing up the story before it actually begins. In both the fifth paragraph and the final paragraph, you seem to be summing up the point of the whole story. And if this were the whole story, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. But seeing as how this is just the preface, I think it would be a good idea for you to get rid of one of those paragraphs altogether (since they're basically saying the same thing) and cut whichever one you keep down a bit. It's not that what you're writing is bad, it's just that it's a bad place for it. I feel like, as a reader, I wouldn't be very inclined to keep reading this story in a book or magazine since you've already told us the whole point of it.

What I would emphasize is the paragraph that starts, "I was aware that I was inside a huge, infinite blackness..," because if you're trying to get readers interested, that's the hook where you should put your bait. Good luck! [FONT=&quot]
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grandbudda

Senior Member
Chapter One
A Journey With Mom





As I drifted into this world I was alone in the blackness, some of the faces looked familiar. They looked like people I knew and was even related to often. It seemed like all the faces of people I’ve ever met were cascading by in my mind. I did have a vivid recollection of my mother whose maiden name was Marian Sanguedolce. As if appearing to me somehow saying “Greg, I love you, you’re my little baby. You love stories so let me tell you some stories that I know are important to you.” All I could manage was a passive “alright ma, whatever you say.” I was in a weakened state, feeling eerily detached almost out of body, weak but not in pain at all. In the distance I could hear someone talking but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. I also could hear the sound of water that seemed to be both above me and below me. I felt weak and detached but things started to come back into focus and I could see and hear clearly now. My mother was a tall woman with classic Mediterranean features while my father was of average height for Italians about 5’8 they were well-matched in size and stature.


It was just afternoon on Sunday, January 10, 1954 and Marian and Roy Masceri were getting ready to have dinner at Gregorio and Carmella Masceri’s house on West Ave.
The West Avenue area was about three blocks from St. Mary’s hospital and in the neighborhood known as Bulls Head was teaming with a beautiful snow crescent day filled with sunshine.

It was Roy’s parents house as they and the rest of the family were getting ready to welcome a newcomer, a new baby that Marian was carrying and due anytime. There was his oldest sister Mary who was 26 then and remained single her whole life. Margaret who was next, Lou at age 23 and his wife Louella with their infant son Richard. Dorothy who was a year older than Roy.
Roy was the youngest of five children and at age 20 about to become a daddy. Marian was also 20 and was the second of four children of Joe and Rose Sanguedolce. Her older brother Russ was 22 and she had a nine-year-old brother Joe and five-year-old brother Basil.

Carmella’s oldest daughter Mary announced that “The sauce is ready, I’ll leave it covered and turn off the heat”. As Mario Lanza’s record was belting out another tune at Casa Masceri. Gregorio said “silence please” as Lanza played. He’d hated for Mario to be interrupted. Everyone began to gather round the dining room table as no one could sit until father did. So as Gregorio sat at the head of the table he made a motion and said” sit down everybody and eat” he proclaimed. Like sheep they came as Lou and Louella took their seats nearest dad and Carmella sat at the foot of the table as Mary, Margaret and Dorothy finished bringing in the platters of food.

Then when all was served the three young women sat on either side of Marian and Roy. Except for an occasional question or order there was only the silence of people happily eating and the sound of that accompanied by beautiful Italian music.
Suddenly, Marian felt something wet as her water broke. With a shrill “Oh my god” she was up from her seat and frantic “Oh dear lord” she said, mother Carmella said “it’s ok honey, everything is ok”. Roy moved quickly and saying nervously “I guess it’s time to go.” Everyone was both nervous and excited for the occasion. It looked like the time had come the baby was ready. Lou encouragingly yelled out “Go get ‘em Roy, go get your baby”. Roy and Marian were off to St Mary’s hospital to have a baby and Carmella was on the phone to her parents who were thankful for the call.

Rose told Joe “let’s go its time” and they were off to the hospital as well. Their oldest boy Russell was driving the car as Joe sat next to him in the front seat and Rose sat in the backseat.

As they drove the radio was playing the Italian Hour as sounds of their heritage filled the 1949 Dodge station wagon. Russ said “Any side bets on whether it’s a boy or girl?” Joe just sat there, the strong silent type and Rose said “I think it’ll be a boy, everyone wants a boy first, like you Russ.” Joe rolled his eyes and Russ had a big grin on his face realizing his mother’s love.

About 3:30 pm Marian was not yet in hard labor. She had some contractions but not strong pains yet. Roy was with her and holding her hand, “How do you feel honey?” “Oh, alright, just a little pain, but I’m afraid” she said. “Everything’s going to be just fine”. They were saying good-bye as the nurse had told them she’d be back to check on her shortly. Roy told her “you need to be brave now honey, I’m proud of you……I love you honey.” As Roy laid a kiss on her forehead he was escorted to the waiting room.

Joe and Gregorio sat with Russell in the waiting room and made mostly nervous small talk. Gregorio was a handyman who did some remodeling and handiwork and Joe was a self-employed landlord who was handy as well. Joe owned a lot of real estate in the west side Italian neighborhood called the Ninth Ward. Nervously, they awaited their grandchild and niece or nephew respectively. Rose and Carmella meanwhile were engaged in a much more serious discussion of the baby’s room. They would have to sit and wait for the final call, blue or pink. Soon Roy was there and joined the rest as they waited. Russ enquired “How’s Marian?” Roy said “She’s doing great, everything is fine” he said as he gave the impression of a bundle of nerves.

Around 6:00pm Dr. Ninfo had arrived and seemed ready to go to work. He greeted Joe & Rose whom he’d known well. He also delivered two of Rose’s kids Joey and Basil who was 5. “They all greeted the doctor and showed their obvious appreciation that he would stop and say hello to them.

Quiet and nervous excitement filled the waiting room where the expectant father and family members had gathered for a blessed event. Russ asked” Is anybody hungry, should I go get some sandwiches or something”?

As he surveyed the room it looked like no one was speaking up and finally Rose said “I think we’re alright Russ, thank you though”. Joe picked up the Sunday paper and started to read to pass the time. Rose and Carmella continued their small talk about the baby’s room and such.

It was approaching 9:00 and Marian was now in labor as she somehow began to think of the Colgate Comedy hour of all things and her favorites Martin & Lewis who would host tonight’s live broadcast. It was strange she thought that now of all things to be on my mind are Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
As the contractions started to come more closely and harder she screamed “I need some drugs Doctor”. And Dr. Ninfo didn’t disappoint, “Marian, dear, we’re going to give you some anesthesia soon”. She nodded with painful acknowledgment. Holding the mask over Marian’s face the doctor said “I want you to count backwards from twenty”. As Marian started she seemed to go lights out quickly.

Meanwhile, Roy Masceri was told that he would soon be a father he had a flash in his mind the Colgate Comedy hour was underway. He thought that it was odd to be thinking of now as well. Why am I thinking of Lewis and Martin now of all things?

Unknown to Roy, Russell turning to Joe and Rose said “Dad, that crazy Jerry Lewis is on tonight” with a smile. They shared a laugh with Roy’s parents. Russ continued “Jerry’s a lunatic”. Rose injected “That Dean Martin is so handsome and what a voice!” she said. They all thought that it was odd that they had picked up on this topic with all the expectations of the new arrival each smiling but drifting to alternate thoughts of Marian and the new baby and Jerry & Dean.

Marian was now under and when she next awoke a nurse said “You’re gonna’ be a mommy.” As she drifted off her mind again go to the Colgate Comedy hour and the hosts Martin & Lewis.

Martin and Lewis were a great American comedy team, comprising singer Dean Martin as the “straight man” and comedian Jerry Lewis as the comedic “foil”. The pair first met in 1945; their debut as a duo occurred at Atlantic City’s 500 Club on July 24 1946.

Before they teamed up Martin was a nightclub singer, while Lewis did a comedy act in which he lip-synched to records. As a team, they worked in nightclubs, on radio and in television and films. In the team’s later years, it was no longer billed by the two men’s surnames alone, as in their early radio work, but by their full names: “Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.” These separate identities helped them launch successful solo careers after the team’s dissolution.

Suddenly, a annoying voice from behind Marian’s head could be heard, a shrill “ Hey laaady” it went, as the voice repeated and got closer it was him Jerry Lewis with chopsticks in his mouth at the foot of her bed. Doing his shtick, Marian was laughing being completely entertained. To her right was a man “Good evening, ladies and gentleman, I’m Dick Stabile here with my band and my sax”. It was the bandleader for the show thought Marian, it just can’t be can it?

Considered one of the outstanding saxophonists of the big band era, Dick Stabile had his own signature line of musical instruments. He was once featured in ‘’Ripley’s Believe It or Not’’ for being the ‘’only’’ sax player to hit the highest note possible on that instrument.

As the band cued up Dino entered the delivery room with his mike in hand beginning his awesome rendition of “That’s Amore”.
“When the moon hits your eye like a nice pizza pie that’s amore, that’s amore”, he sang in his rich voice. He was so dreamy Marian thought as Dean belted out the tune.

She was reeling as the room seemed to fill with Martin & Lewis, the band and though she couldn’t make out it seemed as if an audience.
She said “What is going on, someone please tell me?”

Marian seemed transformed to another place in her mind. “It’s Martin and Lewis’ official debut at Atlantic City’s 500 Club.”

“I’m the owner, Skinny D’Amato, and I warned them to come up with a better act for their second show or this will be their last night.” She was in a state of both euphoria and disbelief at the sight.

So Lewis and Martin went for broke, throwing out the pre-scripted gags just improvising their way through their act. Dean sang some songs, and Jerry came out dressed as a busboy, dropping plates and more or less making a shambles of Martin’s performance.

They did slapstick, reeled off old vaudeville jokes, and did whatever else popped into their heads at the moment. Marian and the rest of the delivery room staff as the audience were doubled over in laughter. “I can’t believe this, can this really be happening?”

Of course their success at the 500 in fact did lead to a series of well-paying engagements up and down the Eastern seaboard, resulting with a triumphant run at New York’s Copacabana. Club patrons and the guests in Marian’s room were convulsed by the act.
It consisted mostly of Lewis interrupting and heckling Martin while he was trying to sing. Finally the two of them chasing each other around the stage and having as much fun as possible. The secret, they have both said, is that they essentially ignored the audience and played to one another.

Suddenly, in a dark corner of the room the lights came up and a voice said let’s welcome ladies and gentlemen the Modernaires. Marian hearing canned applause now heard the singing group begin to sing “pardon me boys is the Chattanooga choo choo woo woo.” The Modernaires began as a trio of schoolmates from Lafayette High School in Buffalo, New York. The members, Hal Dickinson, Chuck Goldstein, and Bill Conway, were called “Don Juan-Two and Three,” Marian could remember hearing the Modernaires who were featured on the Paul Whiteman radio show. They recorded many of the classic songs of that era. Songs made popular by Glen Miller and The Modernaires included “Perfidia”, “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”, which was being performed now and with Tex Beneke the first-ever “gold record” with over one million copies sold.

“I Know Why”, “Elmer’s Tune”, “Serenade In Blue”, and “Kalamazoo”, with Beneke, among others. “I can’t believe I’m smiling and laughing I should be afraid and screaming”. Somehow Marian felt at peace with all of this and was just gonna lay back and enjoy the show.

Martin and Lewis were the hottest act in America during the early ‘50s, but the pace and the pressure took their toll. Dean usually had the thankless job of the straight man, and his singing had yet to develop into his unique style of his later years.
The critics praised Lewis, and while they admitted that Martin was the best partner he could have, most of them claimed that Lewis was the real talent of the team and could succeed with anyone. It is worth noting that Lewis always praised his partner, and while he appreciated the attention he was getting, he has always said with complete conviction the act would never have worked without Martin. In the book Dean & Me, Lewis calls Martin one of the great comic geniuses of all-time.

Because the show was live, anything could happen, and usually did. Performers would forget their lines or misread the cue cards, or props wouldn’t work as expected. The show might run over, forcing the director to cut some skits. Or it could run short, and the emcees would have to ad-lib.

Suddenly in the blink of an eye they were gone, no Jerry or Dean, no band nor the Modernaires and Marian was back in the delivery room. Dr. Ninfo asked her if he could get her something. Marian said “I would love a cigarette”, and with the good doctor said “One moment, please” and came back a few moments later with an ashtray and two lit cigarettes. He placed the ashtray on her belly and they sat and smoked as Marian explained “I had the craziest dream that I saw Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin and they were here” she said. Dr. Ninfo laughed and explained the affect of anesthesia could be very profoundly strong and actually could cause hallucinations. “ Oh my god then I’m not crazy?”. “No Marian, quite normal. Just a little tipsy from the gas, that’s all. “

Next in came a nurse with a little bundle and Roy with a smile from ear to ear. “Honey, say hello to our new son” Roy started.
Marian began to weep as the baby was placed in her arms and she kissed and snuggled with him. It was a beautiful sight as the new family began to soak in all the promise of the future as mom and dad and of course husband and wife.
The nurse asked “well what’s his name and Roy said “Gregory Roy after my father”. “That’s a nice name and he’s beautiful” said the nurse.

As the doctor and Roy and the nurse were congratulating each other and sharing some time together Marian was drifting away again. Glimpses of crazy Jerry doing his slapstick humor, the great vocals of Dino and how handsome he was up close. The Modernaires who had been with her earlier, It seemed that they still hadn’t left her.

Around midnight Russell brought Joe and Rose came to see their daughter while Roy and his parents waited for them. Everyone was happy and congratulatory toward Marian. Finally, Russ spoke up saying “hey sis, you missed Martin and Lewis tonight”, laughing with the parents knowing that they were her favorites.

When Marian said “No I didn’t, they were here” they all laughed a little harder it was a Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz moment. Knowingly they nodded to one another like she was a little tipsy from the gas. Marian said “You’re right the doctor did say the drugs can make you see things”. They smiled and caressed her hands and face and told her how good she looked.

After all the family had left, Roy and Marian were there with baby Gregory and their hopes and dreams for the future. Marian began “He can be a Doctor or Lawyer, President of the United States. Whatever he wants, he can be, because we’ll love him so much and will encourage him through his life.”
Roy replied “anything he wants to be or do honey, I love you”. They kissed and enjoyed their first moments alone with baby Greg.

When Marian told Roy about her meeting of Martin and Lewis he, too, laughed it off as hallucinations caused from the medication she’d been given, but Marian felt strangely that this wasn’t a dream. “But it must have been she thought it’s impossible that they were here. Of course it was the drugs” she thought. Marian drifted off to sleep. The doctor and nurses were encouraging Roy to let her rest as they had taken the baby back to the nursery. Roy realized everyone needed some rest and left the room.

As the morning of the 11th broke, Marian was awaken and felt rested, still tired and sore but feeling like a new woman. The nurse and her new baby whom she enjoyed in a special way, forming the bond that exists only between a mother and child. As mother and baby began to seek out each other’s scent and touch a younger nurse came to the room and greeting announced her name was Angela. “Good morning “said the nurse “and how are we doing today?” Marian said she was doing terrific when at that moment Roy entered with his top pocket filled with cigars and a big grin across his face. He kissed his wife and quipped “how’s little mother?” What a great job you did.” Marian beamed with his approval and basked in the love they had for their new offspring.

Angela said “so who does the baby look like?” and Marian said “like Roy” and Roy said “oh no not me he’s too beautiful he looks like Marian.” Angela continued saying the baby looked so happy and loved like that new Dean Martin song you know “That’s Amore”.
As the new parents had a little laugh Marian began to think about last night. Then suddenly Angela began “I was watching the Colgate Comedy hour last night. What a great show and how I love Jerry’s antics, but when Dean broke out That’s Amore, oh how I melted.” Marian said “the song was Amore?” And Angela nodded affirmatively and smiled. Marian was shocked and surprised because she had never heard the song before last night and that was a drug induced dream. Angela continued saying “the Glen Miller group, you know, the Modernaires were also on”.

Marian said and they sang “Chattanooga Choo choo”? and Angela snapped her head around now startlingly looking at Marian, saying “yeah they did” sheepishly. Marian and Angela simultaneously said” oh my god”! As Roy said what’s going on? Marian began to describe her evening performance in her medication induced dream she had. As Angela listened she felt like she was watching the exact repeat of last night’s show.

The problem for everyone of course was that one it was a live performance from New York city and second there was no TV in the delivery room. In fact there was no TV anywhere near Marian so how could she describe what happened? Of all things on the Martin & Lewis show last night of all things!

Roy said “There must be some other explanation, obviously Martin & Lewis weren’t here last night”. Angela said “This is giving me the willies, it’s very strange.” Marian just didn’t know what to think as Dean started singing in her head; “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s Amore, when the stars make you drool just like pasta fasool that’s Amore…That’s Amore”.
Marian could hear Jerry’s voice squeaking “hey Dino… Dino…who’s the laaady Dino?.” Everyone just stopped for a few moments and then just pretended at least to one another that nothing had happened. Well maybe Roy and Angela could pretend but not Marian, after all it happened to her she thought. She wondered was she going crazy? Was any of this to be explained rationally, how could it have occurred?

Then Marian thought what a special baby Greg was, a kind of TV show version of baby Jesus on Broadway or the savior of the Colgate Comedy Hour. Surely god himself had sent the Martin & Lewis show to her to entertain the mother of the special child born at 9:30 pm on Sunday night during the Colgate Comedy Hour starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Time would pass and things would change, but Marian would never forget her visit from the famous pair. And as time went on she never said it out loud but did tell her husband and her mother both of whom convinced her never to tell anyone or they would lock her up in the loony bin.

When the famous team broke up a couple of years later Marian felt sad and cried, but that wasn’t too whacky because many people felt sorry as well. When she would watch the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon she would be taken back to then. Whenever the Dean Martin show or one of his tunes played she would be carried back to the delivery room at St Mary’s hospital in her mind.

So Dean and Jerry split up, so did my parents and boy, was I pissed off. I was pissed off at the world. I was mad at myself and blamed myself for their failed marriage. Like many children of divorce either feel and sometimes are made to feel at fault for the failures of their parents.

Why, back in the epochal summer of ‘56, Why did Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis declare it splits Ville? Was it the seven (actually 10) year itch? Professional jealousy? Sibling rivalry? The ascendance of Elvis? Lewis’s memoir Dean & Me doesn’t lack for historical perspective:

“In the age of Truman, Eisenhower, and Joe McCarthy, we freed America,” he begins. “For ten years afterworld War II we were not only the most successful act in history-we were history.”

Among other things, Lewis reveals that both he and Martin had been lonely kids with rejecting parents, crediting their onstage chemistry to an “X factor” defined as “the powerful feeling between us.” Dean, nine years older, was the big brother he never had.

Read Dean & Me to the bitter end and you’ll discover that, so far as Lewis is concerned, they never have. Jerry Lewis and the late Dean Martin barely spoke during the last 10 months of their decade-long partnership, according to an excerpt from Mr. Lewis’ memoir, “Dean & Me (A Love Story),” as published in an edition of Parade magazine.

The longtime friends shocked the showbiz community when they broke up after starring together in movies, radio and nightclubs. Their final show was at the Copacabana Club in New York City on July 24, 1956. Mr. Martin died at 78 on Christmas Day in 1995.

The rub, according to the Octogenarian Mr. Lewis: He wanted to grow as a comedian and actor, while Mr. Martin wanted his own TV show.
“I couldn’t shake the childish hope that, just like a fairy tale, everything would be all better. But I knew that Martin & Lewis’ days were numbered.”

When I was about five and my parents Roy and Marian divorced, my mom told me about her crazy experience on the night I was born. I never saw anything of my father from that time until I became an adult and then only a few times since. I was raised with my mom Marian and grandparents Joe and Rose. My grandparents were the salt of the earth and both whom I often reflect on as my relationship was a special and close one. Mom’s story always seemed weird and unbelievable, but I have to admit that my own admiration for both Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin were always high. I used to love watching Jerry in all of his movies. He would have me close to peeing my pants as I laughed with his insanity.

Then there was Dean Martin who was without a doubt the coolest of cool and what a voice! Even better than Frank Sinatra, Dean was an amazing talent and I loved him on TV, in movies or song he was incredible.

My early childhood was filled my confusion and feelings of abandonment and even yet it was family that brought me back from the brink. My Grandparents, Joe and Rose Sanguedolce, took my mom and I in and from age five to age 12 I was raised and nurtured by them. We lived with my grandparents until my mom remarried. During those years I was lucky to have two mothers and my father was grandpa Joe and I also had my uncle Russ to look up to.

I know everyone will say there is no way this happened, in fact I’m sure with every fiber of my being there is no way that Martin & Lewis visited my mom the night I was born.
However, I want to believe and I’m not sure why but as I get older I want to believe even more. Sometimes, I think that if I close my eyes and think real hard I can believe that mom is with me, that so are my grandparents and yes, that even Jerry and Dean are with me. Maybe you know that if you close your eyes and think real hard you probably have some wild real imaginations of your own. Who knows no one can ever prove these things sometimes it just comes down to faith and as they say keep the faith.


In my state of mind and body I was feeling still as though the quality of my experience was part dream, part real and part 3D. It was a recollection and one that I was remembering. With both the happiness in seeing people that were gone now and the feelings of love and affection as well as feelings of loss that came rushing back to me. Where was I and how do I get back and what the hell is going on here? These questions would have to wait because I was tired and needed to rest, my mind and my body, especially rest my body.

Yet while I did feel that way I also felt fantastic and in total control. Not in control of my body but in the sense of time and space. I was exhilarated by a feeling of freedom to come and go in such rapid flashes.
 

The Prodigy

Senior Member
I'm a bit biased here, I must admit. Prefaces are, in my perhaps flawed opinion, often misused and unnecessary. The opening it meant to compel my senses to be interested in your thought process. Can I be interested in something that is so openly exposed? This opening feels like a a synopsis, and I'm drained immediately of all interest. Why not incorporate a great well written engaging first hit to my psyche into the initial chapter or have it be the chapter itself? So engaged, I would under absolute compulsion read to the next chapter and the next, so forth. If you will, condense the preface into a succinct succulent nectar.

I promise to read the first chapter and give a comment. And though I may not have complimented any part of your writing, there were definite gems. I appreciated it. Keep writing and I'll keep reading.
 

grandbudda

Senior Member
I appreciate your comments and have decided to incorporate the Preface as you say into my first chapter of the book. I am interested in your thoughts on the chapter that I posted here called A journey With Mom. I look forward to your feedback.
 

grandbudda

Senior Member
Chapter Two - My Time In Pepperland

As I drifted off from the visit with my mom and dad I could feel and hear music playing in the background and young guys laughing in the distance that seemed to be speaking in a British accent. As my foc sharper I was living in Rochester, NY and I was a young boy living one house from the corner of Dewey Ave. on # 20 Steko Ave. and I was thinking about what all boys in my neighborhood thought in October of the year, Mickey Mantle. The Mick was of course a national hero but most importantly in my neighborhood he was our hero and more importantly than that he was my personal hero. I loved Mickey like no other 10-year old kid in America. Also since it was 1964 and the Yankees were awesome there was Roger Maris whose 61 homers broke the great Babe Ruth’s single season record. Of course 1961 was a big year for me because that was the year I fell in love with Baseball and what a year it was. Maris and Mantle were battling for the home run crown and I love it all so much. It was the biggest thing going on that year. So now at the ripe old age of ten I was maturing as a true Yankee fan.

Mickey Charles Mantle was born in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, on October 20, 1931, the son of a minor-league player who never made it to the big leagues and named him after Major Leaguer Mickey Cochrane.

Mickey’s father and grandfather who also never made it to the majors taught him how to play baseball, but more importantly also taught him how to be a switch-hitter.

Mickey grew up during the Great Depression, which hit Oklahoma especially hard. Times were so tough the only way to play sports as a kid was to play with friends; there were no organized leagues around back then.


It was while playing baseball with his friends that Mickey’s astonishing talent for the game made itself obvious. When he got into high school he played baseball, basketball and football and excelled at all three.
Some thought that he would become a football player when he grew up, but Mickey had known what he wanted to be since the age of five: a baseball player, and nothing else. A devastating knee injury almost ruined his chances of getting into that or any other sport, and would be the beginning of the knee problems that would plague him throughout his career.

He was drafted into the minors at age 18, and while in the Yankee farm system his astounding talent was so obvious that he was jumped from the Class C division directly to the Yankee team itself. When he got there he was given #6, because Yankee management thought he would be the next “superstar” and in line with the other Yankee greats: Babe Ruth (#3), Lou Gehrig (#4), Joe DiMaggio (#5). Mick didn’t do well, however, and was sent back down to the minors.


After a couple of lackluster games he told his dad he was going to quit, but after giving it some thought he decided to stick with it and soon began to hit again.

He was recalled to the Yankee team (and given #7 this time), and that was when the Mickey Mantle of legend was born. He started in right field before DiMaggio left. During the 1951 World Series Mickey stepped into a water drain in the outfield, a serious injury that affected his playing from that point on.


In his 18-year career he set and broke many records. And, as he has said, if he had taken better care of himself most of his home runs were hit while he was injured he would have broken every record in the book. Even his injuries and his fondness for hard drinking were no match for his mind-boggling talent he once hit a home run with one arm. He has admitted that many of his homers were hit while he was not only injured but drunk or hung over. In his later years he came to regret the chances he had and missed because of his drinking and partying.

He even made a public service message to the kids who idolized him, recounting the kinds of things he had done and the mistakes he had made, and telling them, “Don’t be like me.” It’s doubtful if there ever can be anyone like him; someone like Mickey Mantle comes along only once in a lifetime. He died August 13, 1995 at the age of 64.

He was considered the fastest man in baseball during the 1950s. Arguably the greatest all-around center fielder of the 1950s. Named on 20 All-Star teams. Without a doubt, he was the greatest switch-hitter of all-time.

He holds World Series records for home runs (18), RBI (40), runs (42), walks (43), extra-base hits (26), and total bases (123). When he first came up to the major leagues, he ran from home plate to first base in 3.1 seconds.
Hit his 536 home runs in 18 years mostly injured and sometimes half-drunk.

Merlyn and Mickey were separated for 15 years, but neither filed for divorce. Mantle lived with his agent, Greer Johnson, until his death. Johnson was taken to federal court in November 1997 by the Mantle family to stop her from auctioning many of Mantle’s personal items, including a lock of hair, a neck brace and expired credit cards.

New York Yankees All-Time Games Played Leader (2,401). New York Yankees All-Time At Bats Leader (8,102). He holds both single season and career home run records (54 & 536, respectively) for switch-hitters. Mantle, Jimmie Foxx, Hack Wilson and Babe Ruth are the only players to hit .350 and 50 home runs in the same season 1956 for Mantle; 1930 for Wilson; 1932 for Foxx; 1920, 1921, and 1927 for Ruth.

“If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” “I had it all and blew it.”

About hitting a home run hung over, If you thought hitting that home run was hard, you should have seen me trying to run the bases! “During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at-bats a season. That means I played 7 years without ever hitting the ball.”

“I couldn’t do anything wrong after Roger beat me. I became the underdog; they hated him and liked me. Everywhere I went I got standing ovations. It was a lot better than having them boo you.” – On the 1961 record chase with Roger Maris.

Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961 to break baseball’s single-season record of 60, set by Babe Ruth in 1927. Maris set the new record after a spirited season-long duel with fellow New York Yankee Mickey Mantle, who hit 54 homers the same year.
Though Maris was the American League’s MVP in both 1960 and 1961, he was not considered a major star and was maligned by some fans who felt he wasn’t fit to stand alongside the legendary Ruth. Similar sentiments cropped up when Hank Aaron beat Ruth’s career home run record. Maris’s record was considered unofficial for some time, since it was achieved in 162 games rather than the 154-game season Ruth played; this is often referred to as “the asterisk” by Maris’s name. In 1991, baseball commissioner Fay Vincent declared Maris to be the sole and official record holder, by it ending the controversy. Maris’s record was broken by Mark McGwire, who hit 70 home runs during the 1998 season.

Maris wore #9 and batted left-handed... He was traded to St. Louis in 1967 and retired after the 1968 season... Maris played himself in small roles in the 1962 movies Safe at Home with Mickey Mantle and That Touch of Mink with Cary Grant and Doris Day... He was played by actor Barry Pepper in the 2001 HBO movie 61* directed by Billy Crystal.
In 1964, Roger hit 26 home runs and 71 RBI’s and the Yankees again won the pennant and a trip to the World Series. Roger suffered a wrist injury in 1965 and was only able to play in 46 games for the Yankees. After the 1966 season, the Yankees traded Roger Maris to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he played his last two years.
In 1967, Roger helped lead the Cardinals to the World Series, where he then homered and drove in a Cardinal record 7 RBI’s as St. Louis won the World Series.

In 1968, Roger helped the Cardinals return to the World Series and then announced his retirement. In all, Roger Maris played in seven World Series in the Sixties (1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1968), hitting six World Series home runs and driving in 18 World Series RBI’s. He finished his career with 275 home runs. On July 21, 1984, in a ceremony in Yankee Stadium, the Yankees retired Roger’s number (#9) and erected a plaque in his honor praising his achievements. Roger Maris died on December 14, 1985 of lymphoma cancer at the age of 51. The M&M Boys” was the nickname given to the New York Yankees’ early-1960s slugging tandem of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. The nickname gained provenance during the 1961 season, when Maris and Mantle, batting 3-4 in the Yankee lineup, both challenged Babe Ruth’s 34-year old single-season record of 60 home runs.


The home run lead would change hands between the two teammates many times throughout the summer and fueled intense scrutiny of the players by the press. Maris eventually broke the record when he hit his 61st home run on the final day of the season, while Mantle belted 54 before he was forced from the lineup in September with an abscessed hip.

Maris’ record would stand for 37-years until it was broken by Mark McGwire in 1998. The duo, however, holds the single-season record for combined home runs by a pair of teammates 115.

The New York Yankees’ 1964 season was the 62nd season for the Yankees. The team finished with a record of 99-63, winning their 29th pennant, finishing 1 game ahead of the Chicago White Sox. New York was managed by Yogi Berra. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they were defeated by the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games. That Series win gave the Cardinals a 3-2 edge in overall Series play, the first time any team had an overall edge against the Yankees since the 1920s. As of 2007, the Cardinals remain the only one of the “classic eight” National League teams to hold an edge over the Yankees.
This season is considered to be the endpoint of the “Old Yankees” dynasty that had begun with the Ruppert-Huston partnership and then continued with the Topping-Webb partnership. The Yankees would soon undergo ownership changes and front office turmoil, and would not be a serious reason in the pennant chase again until the early 1970s.

A 1964 New York Yankees Team Signed Baseball with the key signatures: Berra, Mantle, Ford, Howard, Maris, and Stottlemyre is worth about $600.-$800.
Value is based on average prices of recently closed auctions. Prices may vary based on condition, and the type of authenticity that accompanies the baseball. Prices may also vary based on the signatures, and key signatures acquired. The more complete the baseball with key signatures the more valuable.
After another devastating loss in the previous year’s Classic, a different New York Yankees team returned to represent the American League in 1964.

Yogi Berra had replaced Ralph Houk at the helm and under his guidance, the Yanks managed to barely win the American League pennant by a single game over the Chicago White Sox. It was the fifteenth World Series for the former Yankee catcher as Berra had first appeared in the contest in 1947 and went on play in a record seventy-five games before his last outing in 1963. Many of his former teammates had remained in New York as Mickey Mantle prepared to play in his twelfth postseason exhibition, Whitey Ford entered his eleventh and Bobby Richardson posted his ninth appearance. Roger Maris, who was only in his fifth season as a Yankee, had never missed the World Series since donning the blue pinstripes.

Their opponents, the St. Louis Cardinals had just missed the previous year’s contest by finishing six games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (who had dethroned the once-mighty Yankees in a four-game sweep) and were determined to follow suite. Much like their American League rivals though, the Cards had a lot of luck to thank for their latest postseason opportunity. First the Nationals lost their General Manager in mid-August, but managed to climb from fifth to first with notable help from the Philadelphia Phillies, who blew a 6½ game league lead with twelve games to play.

It was the last World Series appearance for many regulars including Mantle (who set the all-time Series home run record at eighteen), Ford, Richardson, Kubek and Boyer. Howard would appear in the Classic once more (with the Boston Red Sox) and Maris was destined to play in two more with the Cardinals.

Both managers were no longer at the helm after the Series (Berra was fired & Keane resigned), but in a strange twist, it would be the unemployed Cardinals skipper Johnny Keane who resurfaced in a Yankees uniform as Yogi Berra’s replacement.

It was the end of summer 1964 just after labor day when my uncle Russ came to me at grandma’s house and asked “hey Greg how’d you like to see the World Series with the Yanks?” I almost screeched “yeah” as I filled with anticipation and delight.

It was the biggest thing in my life, I would be going to see the Yanks play the Cardinals wow I was the luckiest kid on the planet. “Thanks, uncle Russ” as I gave a big hug to my favorite uncle. He was a six-foot tall man who owned a restaurant chain in Rochester, his manner was cool and calm and he was well respected by friends and family and the community at large. He smiled at me and that was that. We would leave in a few weeks by train to New York, what an adventure awaited me.

My two cousins Rosalie and Russ Jr were like my best friends in those days. Heck we were like the three stooges. I was ten, Rosalie was nine and Russ was eight years old and we were going to New York with fifteen year old uncle Basil, nineteen year old uncle Joe and my uncle Russ and aunt Shirley. The seven of us would travel to New York and stay in two rooms. A couple of days before we were to leave for our trip I was at my cousins who lived on the same street as I. “Hey little Russ let’s go play some ball?” OK Greg came the answer”, and off we were. There was a mall on our street and we were getting up a game of home run ball. We had kids from the neighborhood around the 8 to 11 age range. There was Dickie whose father was a lawyer and grandfather owner a bakery.

We had Eddie who was the son of a judge and had two older sisters that were gorgeous. Of course my pals Frank whose dad was an insurance agent and his cousin Paul whose dad worked for Rochester Gas and Electric on underground construction. With those four and us we had six which was fine for home run ball.

Of course the many signs that were posted in the mall which read no ball playing seemed invisible to us. After about ten minutes my cousin Russ said “ I bet that Mick hits more homers than Roger when we go see them in the series”. Dickie remarked “ Maris will do better, cause my dad says Mickey is all washed up.”

This seemed like blasphemy so I yelled “ hey I’ve been a Yankee fan my whole life”, (of course I was just ten years old) “and no one’s gonna beat the Mick”. Provenzano butted in “ Masceri you’re an ass Maris is way better than Mantle now”. My cousin shoved him and he shoved back and the next thing we knew we had a little brew ha of our own going on. Just then the friendly police car pulled up and we heard a commanding voice yell” hey break it up and get home” the officer said. We would never argue with authority so we collected our stuff and returned to our respective homes as the police officer drove off.

We knew that it was Mrs. Riley who called the cops, she was a busybody who had nothing better to do than look out of her windows all-day and be nosey. When we got to my uncle’s house aunt Shirley asked what happened and we of course said we were just playing so we didn’t blow any chance to see the Yanks in a couple of days.



More importantly the Yanks were coming on TV as we waited for the game and dreamed of our own in person view coming on the weekend. So it was Wednesday October 7th and the Yankees were traveling to St. Louis to start the World Series.

Whitey Ford, always a postseason standout, held onto a 4-2 lead going into the sixth inning of the opener. But St. Louis right fielder Mike Shannon hammered a long two run homer off the veteran and when catcher Tim McCarver followed with a double, the thirty-five year-old Ford was through for the day, and because of arm problems the Series. The 9-5 loss of Game 1 as well as their #1 ace should have been a sign for what was to come as the Yanks were now experiencing a new kind k… a losing one. The opening fiasco was their fifth successive loss in World Series play and for the first time in a longtime the Yankees were the underdogs.

The star of game one was Mike Shannon a third year player with the cards who went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI. And Curt Flood and Lou Brock brought athletisism and speed and 2 RBI each to contribute the win.

I turned to my cousins after game one and said “we better beat em tomorrow or the Yanks could be in big trouble.” Russ responded “the cards got lucky, we’ll get em next time you’ll see”. We nodded and prayed that night the Yanks would come back to even the series so when we saw them on Saturday they would be tied at least.

When Thursday came we waited in the great expectation of game two of the series in St. Louis that would be moving to New York after this game.

When we got home from school the game was already started and we were into a a pitcher’s duel at first with Mel Stottlemyre and Bob Gibson. In an attempt to jumpstart his team, Berra gave the Game 2 ball to an up-and-coming rookie named Mel Stottlemyre who went against Cardinal ace Bob Gibson.

Stottlemyre had thrown strong down the homestretch after getting called up from Richmond in August and was a deciding reason for New York in the close American League pennant race. Both pitchers stood firm until Gibson left the game and his relief surrendered four ninth inning runs for an 8-3 loss that put the “Bombers” back in the race. We were all tied up and ready for Saturday and game three of the series in New York.

That night as was at least a weekly experience we would pitch baseball cards. It was Danny, Dickie, Larry and I and we would pitch baseball cards and play for keeps, baseball cards I mean. Well you see most kids collected cards and kept them poorly, I collected cards and kept them in excellent condition. Pitching cards for me was easy, I would use only doubles or triples of cards I already had in my collection and try to win cards that I didn’t have to fill out my collection.

After we pitched cards for maybe half an hour or so we would start trades. I started “ hey Danny who do you have that’s new?” He said “I got Norm Cash” and I said “ oh him” Sure oh him, I didn’t have him and I wanted him so I engineered a trading session. “Let me see what you got there.” Alright Danny said. So I was handed a wad of cards and as I went through I saw of course Norm Cash, whom I pretended that I wasn’t really interested in but also Tommy Aaron, Felipe Alou, Curt Flood and Bob Friend.
I said “hey Danny I’ll take these five and I’ll give you Hank Aaron”. He quickly agreed because he got the better player. But I got to round out some players to complete my 1964 card collection. After about an hour I took my haul and everyone wished me good luck as they knew I was making the pilgrimage to the Bronx.

So Friday was a travel day for not only the teams but also for us as we rode the train from Rochester to New York it would be a long day but we’d get there around 6:00pm. When we arrived in New York it was like nothing I’d ever seen. The sights, the sounds and the smells were all different from anything I’d ever experienced before. Of course uncle Russ and Aunt Shirley had been to New York many times this was my first time and it was exciting. Aunt Shirley was a beautiful woman with blonde hair and tall and slender and I was her favorite nephew. We were in bed before 11:00 which was late for me, but this was vacation and vacation was different and I felt like the coolest cat around.

As Saturday morning came up I was wild with excitement and couldn’t wait to go to the stadium. It was like a religious awakening and visit to the holy land of the Bronx. We went to lunch and headed to the stadium from midtown Manhattan by way of the subway.

This too was a new and exciting trip taking the subway with thousands of others who get around the city this way. It was fantastic and all of my senses were stirred. When we arrived at the stadium it was a beautiful autumn day around 70 degrees and sunny.



As game three got underway it was a classic pitchers duel with Curt Simmons of the Cards against Jim Bouton for the Yanks. In the second inning Clete Boyer doubled to score Elston Howard and give the Yanks a 1 – 0 lead. The only other score was when Cards pitcher Curt Simmons hit a run scoring double and tied the game in the fifth 1 – 1. Even though I hated the Cardinals I kind of admired Simmons, I mean he was a pitcher and got a key RBI. So it was tied after five and a real duel was happening in the Bronx. I remember thinking where are the homers, where are the bombers?

Manager Johnny Keane used a pinch-hitter for Simmons in the ninth as the Cards threatened, but failed, to score. Barney Schultz, a clutch reliever for St. Louis, entered the game in the bottom of the ninth and threw one pitch, which Mantle quickly launched into the right-field stands for the 2-1 win.

We went wild, the whole city went wild as the Yanks took a 2 – 1 game lead at home it was glorious as my hero Mickey Mantle got the job done and hit the game winning homer. We were wild with excitement and I remember Basil saying it was the best sports moment in his life to which his brother Joe said “ it might be the greatest thing you ever see in sports.” It sure felt good to be a Yankee fan, it felt important. Hell it was important!

Saturday night was time for Uncle Russ and Aunt Shirley to go out on the town. My cousins and I would be baby-sat back at the hotel by uncles Joe and Basil. Uncle Joe was an attentive guy to us kids and someone that I looked up to. He was a straight A student and he was a role model for me. In many ways Joe was the all American boy. Basil was a lot different from Uncle Joe. They were brothers but that’s where the similarities ended, he was more often in trouble, got average grades and was not the stand out that Joe was but he was the fun guy. A great sense of humor and loved to break your balls.

Uncle Russ was going to somewhere called the 21 Club where he had reservations to for a longtime through a friend who was a good friend of the owner. So around eight o’clock off they went. Well as fate would have it that night they were off to a great night on the town and when they were finished with dinner they moved to the cocktail lounge to enjoy cocktails and some entertainment.

That night another guest of the owner was in the audience his name was Mickey Mantle and he had with him Roger Maris and my uncle and aunt were introduced by the owner of 21. In fact they hit it off with Mickey and he said that “if you brought the kids early we’ll give them some special autographs and stuff like that”. That would be great-uncle Russ said, just terrific. Thank you. So they made their arrangements and even though Sundays game started at 1:00 we got there not at noon like the day before but 11:00, of course all we knew was that we were going to get a special tour which got us excited.

So we leave our hotel at 10 am and start the jaunt to game five and a special pregame tour arranged by uncle Russ. As we arrive we go to a door by a side entrance where a man who said his name was Ralph said “follow me people” and we followed along. Soon we reached a tunnel which was dimly lit and walked up to a door that said private and when that door opened; my life would change forever.



On the other side of the door stood two men ; “ High kids I’m Roger said one man and they other said “hey kids how you doing I’m Mickey! I was dumb founded and awestruck as the two greatest heroes of my life were standing there in front of me. I put out my hand and as Mickey took hold of it I said “ I’m Greg” very clever but I’m lucky I even got that out. As he shook my hand he said “ Roger and I got some signed baseballs for all you guys and some programs and photos all ready for yuh!” “ Gee thanks Mr. Mantle , and Mr. Maris”, as Mickey turned and said “ Just call me Mickey and him Roger” as Roger Maris nodded in agreement and winked at me.

Is this where I ask for them to hit a homer for me in the game ? I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. If nothing else happens the rest of my life I’ve just met Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, what an thrill.

After a few minutes Roger took over the tour and was talking to everyone and Mickey came up to me and said “I’m glad you kids could be here today I love to see happy fans”. I said “Thanks can you hit a home run for me? Mick came quickly back with “this isn’t a movie you know but I usually try my best to hit well, and I promise I’ll try to hit well today.” “OK” was all I could manage. The Mick quipped “hey Russ like I told you last night if I knew I was gonna live this long I’d a taken better care of myself”. As Mickey, Roger and my uncle Russ all shared a laugh I could only watch in awe of this magnificence. When it was my turn talk to Roger I asked “whose your favorite baseball player?” he said “Mickey’s everyone’s favorite isn’t he?” As Roger smiled I could sense that he did like Mickey and that indeed they were good friends. But even Roger Maris knew that there was only one Mickey Mantle.

Soon along came Ralph and our fifteen minutes of fame was over as I got to shake both Roger and Mickey’s hands one more time and wave goodbye. I had a signed baseball, program and photo of the M&M boys, what a lucky kid I thought. I couldn’t wait to get back home and show off to everyone in my fifth grade class.

So we watched batting practice which was fantastic and then took our great seats for game four of the 1964 world series. The Cards Ray Sadecki started Game 4 against the Yanks Al Downing, but was taken for three quick first inning runs. Downing faired better and protected the lead going into the fifth, but the lefty was nailed by Ken Boyer for a grand-slam in the following inning. With relievers Roger Craig and Ron Taylor combining for 8 2/3 innings of two hit, scoreless relief, St. Louis went on to even the Series with a 4-3 victory.

As a side note Mickey Mantle went 1 for 2 with a single, a walk and a sac fly, while Maris went 1 for 4 with a single. Now the Yanks series was evened up at two games each. But I was on cloud nine, I met the top Yankees and they were my friends, heck they even said I could call them by their first names. I cool is that I thought, how cool indeed.

As we left the train station very late Sunday afternoon I kept thinking what a lucky kid I was that my uncle was to best for being able to get Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris to meet us and give us all that stuff. They were just the greatest ever! We got home very late that night, but mom insisted that I not miss school and as Monday was game five I wanted to make sure of two things. First that all the kids at public school #7 knew about my story and new best friends and the two I was home in time to watch the game on TV. My fifth grade teacher was Mrs. Westcott who was a nice lady around 40 years old who thought I was a fairly delightful boy.

When I came to class with a note from my mother which I handed to Mrs. Westcott she told me “ you have something pretty exciting to share today with the class, I’ll give you a few minutes just before lunch.” I nodded agreeingly.

As the class moved on it was almost noon and Mrs. Westcott said “ class .. class your attention please. Gregory is going to share his exciting weekend with us and tell us a little about where he went; Gregory.”

So I started “well my uncle brought me and my cousin Rosalie and Russ and my two uncles to New York and see the Yankees. And, well I got to meet Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and they are friends of mine now and it’s really cool.” The boys sat in stunned silence as they couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Some of the girls did too, but Larry Manheary spoke up and said” you didn’t really meet the Mick” and I said “yes I did.” Mrs. Westcott came to my rescue and explained the note my mother wrote which seemed to authenticate my story with the class. “It was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life “ I said before getting the hook from the teacher.

I felt about ten feet tall and when we were on our way home I was walking quickly with Paul , Danny , Gordy and Dickie who lived on my way home which was down the long hill called Raines Park to Seneca Parkway where I lived. I was king for a day as I promised all to show them my famous autographs by appointment, because my mom wasn’t letting me bring those out in public.


I made it in time for the second inning as a rematch of Bob Gibson for the Cards and Mel Stottlemyre for the Yanks was in the works. As Gibson returned for Game 5 and was one out away from a 2-0 victory when the Yanks’ Tom Tresh ripped a two-run homer that tied it up in the bottom of the ninth. Gibson prevailed however, after Tim McCarver came up huge with a three-run blast off Yanks reliever Pete Mikkelsen for the 5-3 victory.

By the way Mantle and Maris were both hitless and I was feeling like I had somehow jinxed the M&M boys. I was sad and after supper when I was doing my homework I kept thinking they got to win both in St. Louis they could do it they’re the Yankees they can do anything.

So Tuesday was a travel day as the Yanks would travel to St. Louis to finish the series. On Tuesday I met Gordy after school who had heard that I was willing to trade a Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays.
He started “hey Masceri I hear you got a Mays and Mantle you want to deal?” Yea, maybe” I said. What do you want” he continued. I said “what you got”. He pulled out a wad of cards and said” there must be 50 cards or so here, they’re all yours”. I happily agreed and got exactly 55 cards and included 17 new ones to help complete my collection and gave up two, but because they were Mantle and Mays Gordy was willing to do the deal.

I still remember the buying, gum chewing, card pitching and trading that I did all summer long between 1963 and 1966 they were very fun and rewarding times as I completed four full years of Topps baseball card collections.

Wednesday was going to be game six and was scheduled for 3pm when I should be home in time to see almost the whole game.

Game 6 witnessed yet another nail-biter as the contest remained tied 1-1 going into the sixth. It was another rematch of Bouton versus Simmons. This time it was the Yankees coming up big with two consecutive home runs by Mantle and Maris and a grand slam by Joe Pepitone off reliever Gordon Richardson in the eighth. Jim Bouton emerged with his second series win and when it was over, New York had won 8-3 while staying alive and forcing a final Game 7. I was also delighted the Masceri jinx had been lifted from the boys as they each had homers in this game. I felt redeemed, almost like what someone must feel like when they get paroled.

Stottlemyre and Gibson both returned for the climatic finale and held each other scoreless through three innings. Then the Cardinals broke loose for three runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth, touched off by a home run by Lou Brock. Brock a mid-June acquisition from the Cubs, proved to be a brilliant investment during the regular season after stealing thirty-three bases and batting .348 in one-hundred three games. Mantle responded with a three-run homer in the sixth and Clete Boyer and Phil Linz both followed “The Mick’s” lead in the ninth. Despite their efforts, Gibson stood tall and finished the complete-game with a 7-5 Cardinal triumph. So the Yanks lost and little did we know at the time they wouldn’t be back at least not this group for a while.

The Boyer brothers had both come up big for their respective teams and set a record as the first set of brothers to hit home runs in the same Series. Ken had contributed two for St. Louis and Clete added one for New York with one for each coming in the same game.
For the Cardinals, it was the end of a long postseason drought as they had not appeared in the Fall Classic since 1946.

For the Yankees, it was the end of an era as the enduring champions were about to start a drought of their own. Within two years, the American League dynasty would fall from first to last and it would be several years before returning to their former glory (twelve years).

Of course we would pick up the old Brooklyn Dodger chant of “wait till next year”, but little did we know the Yankees would tumble in the standings as they tried to find a new identity. They would finish in last place in just two years and Roger Maris would go the Cardinals in 1967 and Mantle would retire in 1968. A whole chapter in my short life was ending and I didn’t even know it. But I had great memories of that October day especially when I made friends with Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. But Mickey Mantle, I’m sorry Roger it was great to meet you, but there is only one Mickey Mantle.

The last four years of his playing career were filled with increased pain as well as personal and Yankee ineptitude. His .250 batting average from 1965 through 1968 reduced his career average to .298, which caused him much regret. When he retired he had little money, low self-esteem, and numerous celebrity jobs that involved schmoozing and increased drinking. To underline his alcoholism, the video scenes are blurred and Mantle’s face looks rubbery. Ironically, now, he decided to bond with his four sons but did so through alcohol; and, so, as his wife Merlyn remarked, she now had five active alcoholics. Mantle was a toxic drunk, an embittered man who belittled himself, his career, and his role as icon.



He was saved from self-destruction by the onset of the memorabilia craze, which gave him money and continued celebrity. Essentially, he was back where he started as a baseball icon and excessive drinker. Finally, his son’s decision to become sober and his own increasing health problems led him to enter the Betty Ford Clinic in 1994. However, after four decades of abuse, he needed a kidney transplant; but when he received it, it was too late, because he had inoperable cancer.

Confronted with his imminent death, Mantle assumed a greater social consciousness, publicly confessing his sins and telling everyone not to waste their lives as he did. In addition, he founded an organization to facilitate organ donations. He became wizened, his baseball cap looking two sizes too big for his head. Now he was the pathetic penitent who finally recognized what he meant to his fans and what he should have meant to his family. I thought as I continued this journey Mickey had taught me a lesson too about family and that was to treasure them like he wished he had.

The time is right for price gouging in baseball memorabilia. Hell a Scott Brosius-signed baseball is going for $60; it probably cost little more than the ball. But at least with the Mickey Mantle-autographed merchandise that is being auctioned off on the Internet, you get what you pay for: balls signed by the Mick with heartwarming greetings like “Fuck You! Mickey Mantle”

Other items on the block: A ball reading “Willie Mays Sucks! [signed] Mickey Mantle” Another ball that says “Joe DiMaggio Sucks!”
And then there’s one with “Marilyn Monroe told me Joe D. Sucks! –Mickey Mantle-I agree MM” The bids on these items start at two grand. If vou want to spend a little extra, you can pick up a tiny athletic supporter that is expected to attract $5000 to $10,000. The inscription reads “Joe Di,Maggio’s jock/X Small-Mickey Mantle” Asked his thoughts about the auction, Wayne Miller, co executor of the Mantle estate, told Jockbeat that his only concern was the balls are genuine. “There are a lot of forgeries out there,” Miller said. “But it’s not inconceivable to see Mickey having a few pops and doing something like that.”

Mantle was an 18-year pro baseball player with the record for the most home runs, runs batted in, and runs scored in a World Series. Like Ruth, he suited up for the Yankees. Mantle could bat home runs from either side of the plate. His record as a Major League Triple Crown winner – the top batting average, home run and RBI record, has not yet been beaten.

His career was hampered by osteomyelitis of his left leg and by various injuries. Another problem, his alcoholism, contributed to his death from liver cancer. In the last months of his life he received a liver transplant, and spurred efforts to increase public awareness of transplant therapy.

I’m sorry that you never met Mickey Mantle or even Roger Maris, but then you probably didn’t have an uncle Russ either. You see with uncle Russ anything was possible and he proved that to me when great weekend in New York city with Mickey, Roger and I.

Then in my mind’s eye I was adrift again in what seemed like a massive steel can, could it be? A submarine? Come on a Yellow Submarine! “In the town where I was born, Lived a man who sailed to sea, And he told us of his life, In the land of submarines”. I could hear the song from the cartoon movie by the Beatles, but I couldn’t quite see it. Yellow Submarine is a 1968 British animated feature film based on the music of The Beatles. What the hell is that but I felt a twinge of euphoria as I heard the music. The music again faded and I was now back on Steko Avenue.
 
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