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Minutiae Break: Cake for the Knee

I can remember several occasions when, as a little boy, I fell in the playground and scraped my knees. The pain usually stung and lingered for a few days and the reminders of what happened came in the form of scabs and scars, both physical and mental.

Mets fans are probably feeling like that little boy who scraped his knees, based on the recent occurrences combining a long road trip, some bad fortune and a dash of incompetent play. We tried to remedy the wounds with stories from a quarter-century ago but I don't know if those did the trick. Band-aids can cover up the wounds, but there's always the temptation to pull them off too soon, before the healing is completed.

The best cure I know for scraped knees came from Grandma Sophie, played so well by Marion Ross on the television show "Brooklyn Bridge." When Sophie's young grandson, Nathaniel Silver, scrapes his knees while playing ball in the street, she comes quick to the rescue, with some yummy desserts.

Nathaniel's older brother Alan doesn't understand the method's to Grandma Sophie's madness. As she rushed to the kitchen to get the requisite dessert, Alan said to no one in particular "Yeah, put some cake on it. That will make it better."

We'll take it from Nathaniel Silver that Grandmas (almost) always know best. With that in mind as inspiration, I wanted to offer up a few stories, not walk-off related, that brought a smile to the faces of some Mets fans I knew. They're brief in nature and fun to remember. The phrase "Chicken Soup for the Soul" doesn't quite seem appropriate here (besides, it's already taken), so perhaps you can think of these vignettes as "Cake for the Knee."


I had the chance to interview the great broadcaster, Curt Gowdy, a couple of years ago and as we reminisced about some of the thrilling games he worked during a Hall of Fame career, the talk eventually came around to The Miracle Mets of 1969. Gowdy talked briefly about the games, but also shared a funny anecdote post-haste.

Years after that World Series, Gowdy and former Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson went on a trip, either hunting or fishing (don't remember which he said). They spent a lengthy day at their hobby and the trip was a successful one. Gowdy and Robinson go back to the hotel and Gowdy notices when they arrive that Robinson seems unusually distracted. He figures something is wrong and asks the two-time World Series champ, Gold Glover and Hall of Famer what's the matter.

"Curt," Robinson says, shaking his head. "I still can't believe we lost to the Mets in 1969."

If you go to a game and there's an annoying fan sitting nearby, sometimes you just have to be patient, and hope that eventually he or she will shut up. Sometimes you have to be really patient.

On May 31, 1964, my dad and his brother went to see the Mets and Giants in a Memorial Day doubleheader at the brand new Shea Stadium, along with 57,000 of their closest friends. They got pretty good seats that day (My dad's stub is for Loge sec. 18, row J, seat 4), but a kid in front of them had slightly better seats and boy was he annoying. Every time Giants first baseman Orlando Cepeda came to bat, this kid would stand up and scream "Orlando Cepeda is my uncle!"

The Giants rallied to win Game 1 as Cepeda went 3-for-4, so there was a lot of screaming and clapping to drown out the moaning in Loge 18. To make matters worse for those rooting for the Flushing 9, Cepeda scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning on a straight steal of home. We imagine that said fan went bonkers, though my dad does not remember it as such.

The Giants went ahead 6-1 in a third inning in which Cepeda had another hit. It looked like this was going to be a long afternoon for the Mets and in fact it turned out to be longer than anyone could have imagined. The Mets rallied to tie and force extra innings, at which point many fans likely ran out of patience and headed for the exits. Cepeda's nephew stuck around, as did my dad and his brother. They would be there for awhile.

In the 14th, the Giants put their first two men on base for who else, Cepeda. Again the young man stood up. Again he screamed. The count went full. Mets fans anticipated the worst. Cepeda gave the ball a kuh-nock (a tribute to how Grandpa Jules described his baseball "experience" on "Brooklyn Bridge") The ball went right on a line to Mets shortstop Roy McMillan, who caught it, stepped on second, and fired to first. Triple Play! Those in Loge 18 rejoiced. Except for one fan.

"He shriveled up and we didn't hear from him again," my dad said with a laugh.

Postscript: The Giants won in 23 innings. My dad left after 21. No word on whether Cepeda's nephew stuck around to the finish.

A fellow blogger gave me a nice plug on his site the other day and I shall reciprocate in kind, as his story played a role in my putting this piece together. Dave Murray, also known as "Mets Guy in Michigan" told a really nice story of how his life was different because of his decision to work rather than watch the Mets-Cardinals game on September 12, 1985. Enjoy his slice of Cake for the Knee and then feel free to click on my "Comments" section and entertain your fellow readers with your own such feel-good stories.


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