THOSE DAMN YANKEES – I’ll ALWAYS LOVE ‘EM…
I’ll really will. I ought to. I’ve sure had enough contact with them – some in real life – some in pretend life – like on the stage…
First the “on the stage part:” It was my senior year in college – at an all-girls school in Virginia – and the head of the drama department decided we should do “Damn Yankees” as our senior play.
The play was a blast. Nothing like an all-girl cast of seventeen or eighteen year olds, playing all the boys’ parts. I was cast as the “devil”” – the rascal “Applegate” – who was the epitome of naughtiness and chutzpah. My gorgeous, blonde roommate, Nerissa played the equally naughty (but at least she was a girl…) “Lola” – the sex siren. Together, Applegate and Lola, (the best homewreckers in the business…) set out to “wreck” the chances of the Yankees winning yet another pennant – so that the long-suffering, “pathetic” – Washington Senators could have a shot.
Nerissa’s over-the-top portrayal of Lola was a total knockout. Her song, “Whatever Lola Wants”!) was a show-stopper.
“Whatever Lola wants
And little man, little Lola wants you
Make up your mind to have no regrets
Recline yourself, resign yourself, you’re through…
I always get what I aim for
And your heart’n soul is what I came for…”
And my rendition of Applegate’s “Those Were the Good ol’ Days” got a standing ovation. (Of course, my parents led it…) I still remember the lyrics…
“I see Bonaparte
A mean one if ever I’ve seen one
And Nero fiddlin’ thru that lovely blaze
Antionette, dainty queen, with her quaint guillotine
Ah, ha ha haaa!
Those were the good old days!
I see cannibals munchin’ a missionary luncheon
The years may have flown but the memory stays
Like the hopes that were dashed when the stock market crashed
Ahh ha ha haaa
Those were the good old days
I’d walk a million miles or more
For some of the gore
Of those good (they were wonderful)
Old (they’ll be back again!)
And even ‘tho the Yankees were the “bad guys” in the musical, I abandoned my allegiance to the Cleveland Indians (I grew up in Ohio) and fell head over heels in love with them.
So I guess it wasn’t a surprise that when I moved to NYC and met Mike Burke who was president of The New York Yankees, who asked me if I’d like to have a public relations job encouraging women to come to Yankee games, I answered, “How soon can I start?!”
Needless to say, I knew nothing about “public relations” and very little, really, about baseball. But I was smitten and ready to uh, knock it out of the park So I leapt in feet first.
The NY Times did a piece on the “New Yankees” and mentioned me as a “stunning brunette…the “only woman with a front office job in major league baseball…” (The guy I was dating at the time, called me immediately and said, “That was clearly a typo. They obviously meant, “stunned” brunette…”)
I had a terrific time. I went to every single home game – and sat in the same seat in the first tier between third and home. i learned a lot – about all kinds of things: winning, losing, sportsmanship – and that just about everybody needs a bit of “motivation” from time to time…
And that brings me to Joe Pepitone. (He was a first baseman and outfielder for the Yankees, played in the All Star Games three times and won three Gold Glove awards…)
Joe simply walked into my office one morning unannounced and sat down in front of my desk. (It’s funny but I can see him sitting there as if it were yesterday.)
“I gotta problem,” he said. (I have to admit I was taken aback. We’d never even been introduced…) “Okay, shoot,” I said (trying to hide my bewilderment.)
“I can’t hit the ball,” he almost shouted. “I keep striking out. I’ve lost it…” He looked away angrily. He was totally despondent. I had no idea why he chose me to tell this to, but I knew I had to do my best to help him.
“Hey Joe,” I said, “Don’t be ridiculous! You haven’t ‘lost’ anything! You’re still the same guy. You’ve still got the same wonderful gifts. You’re a winner, for God’s sake! Nothing can change that.”
He looked at me hard but I kept going anyway.
“Just get out there and do what you know how to do, will ya?! We need you!”
He reached out and shook my hand, turned and walked out.
Hours later the Yankees were playing, guess who? The Cleveland Indians. It was the last of the ninth and the game was actually tied. Joe was up at bat. He didn’t touch the first pitch. Or the second even (‘tho they were both right down the middle.) But he dug his feet in on the third, hauled off and hit it out of the park.
As he rounded for home, Joe glanced up to where I always sat – and did a quick thumbs up. I was applauding wildly (with tears in my eyes.)
I didn’t know it then, but that was my first foray into the world of “motivation.” And I’ve never regretted it…
Those damn Yankees….I’ll always love ‘em.
Take a listen…