Sunday, October 12, 2014

Golden Days of October

©text and photos/2014twmcdermott

GreyTops VII Invitational/Oct 4
These are the golden days of October when even our biggest mistakes are ringed with sunlight. 

Elsewhere, people suffer from disease, and others rampage in the mistaken belief that the path to heaven is strewn with bodies of the vanquished ones who are not as worthy.

These things must be acknowledged, but they cannot diminish the golden days of October, when a feast shared from the back of an old station wagon, on picnic tables folded on the shining lawns of our alma maters, make Thomas Keller weep with envy.

These are the golden days of October, when grey-topped men compete in the racquet game they love, celebrating, as one more season nears its end and combining to ensure that young players in need receive a chance to play.

On a crisp September day in 1956, my father took me by the hand and we walked up the steep stairway of Forest Hills tennis stadium to take our seats. Hoad and Rosewall, and Seixas and Althea and a former Wimbledon Champion named Dick Savitt danced about the lawn that day; I was instantly and forever smitten, driven to try and recreate the moment over and over again. And so I do.

Miraculously, I partnered with Rosewall nearly 50 years later at the same place. and recently, we received last minute US Open tickets for a box directly behind the stadium court at Flushing, in the second row. The owner of the box? Dick Savitt. There are no coincidences in life. 
Weep Not

Did someone say “Too bad there are no New York teams in the postseason?”
Or “What a shame that Jeter did not get his October ending.”

I protest. Exhibit A, The baseball Giants of San Francisco; née, the New York Giants, who somehow managed to enter into the golden days – called nights in MLB and on Fox – while the Dodgers faltered, and beat the Cards 3-0 last night.

Apologies to my friends who love “dem Bums;” I too admit a certain affection due to their 1955 World Series win over the Yanks in seven, which earned me a day off from my Brooklyn Diocese school.

One more thing: a month ago tomorrow, my daughter married a Bay Area Giants fan – with access to tickets! Thank you, baseball gods.

Another summer day in 1956 my father took me by the hand and we rode the subway to the Polo Grounds station where we alighted, then walked past the orange and black tiles on the station walls, still there today, and into the ancient Polo Grounds. I can close my eyes and see the team in the same cream-colored jerseys still worn at home, and see Johnny Antonelli’s autograph clear as an October day on the team ball my father bought for me.

These are the golden days of October when the usual fog or gloom surrounding thoughts of family lift and scatter into warm golden sunlight.

And, about Jeter? Once, in 2001, when the September ashes were still floating above Manhattan, like a Greek god, he stretched October into a 32nd day. In a Series game that began on All Hallows, tied by Tino in the ninth, past midnight, Jeter took a patented inside-out poke at a ball, sending it into the right field stands to end the game, and tie the Series at 2-2.

After last at bat/still soaring
That homer proved to be only a temporary balm to the local fans, as the gods of November turned triumph into tragedy in the Arizona desert.

But,  that ball that Jeter shot with his ash bow had the glow of October, despite what the calendar said, as it soared into the night. Don’t cry for Jeter; he is still swinging and that ball is still soaring, at least in my eyes. I was there to see it in person, with the DG by my side.

These are the golden days of October in which our good deeds look even better and even our worst mistakes are ringed with sunlight.

Carpe Diem Octobribus.

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