Mets 2, Astros 1
Come over to the window, my little darling,
I’d like to try to read your palm.
I used to think I was some kind of Gypsy boy
Before I let you take me home.
Now so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began
To laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.
On April 17, 1962, Houston met the Mets in the Polo Grounds for the first game between the two expansion teams. Norm Larkin and Don Buddin led the way with home runs for Bobby Shantz, eventual winning pitcher Jim Golden and reliever Bobby Tiefenauer as the Colt 45s beat the Mets 5-1 in front of 3,191 paying fans. Houston took 13 of 16 games in the series that year.
When I was a kid we lived in a middle-class neighborhood, populated by the families of those born late in the Depression or early in World War II. Working class folks with enough of the New Economy of the 1960s to have maybe three bedrooms, or two and a Living Room, plus a nice yard with a chain link fence. Some people even had those wooden privacy fences, but not everybody had that kind of money, especially if you expected to be able to go to Six Flags every summer, maybe even stay in a motel.
Friday nights were our big nights out. We’d pile into the white ’56 Bel Air or later, the super-futuristic ’66 Buick Riviera dad got for my mom and we’d drive around downtown, seeing the sights. We’d cruise down Burnet, Lamar, then down Congress, gaping at the storefront windows, the lights, the Capitol. Sometimes we’d pass by the Vulcan Gas Company and my father would tell us that was where the hippies hung out.
Eventually we’d end up at the McDonald’s in Capitol Plaza, where dinner for four was less than five bucks. Sometimes we’d eat inside, but if it was Christmastime we’d get back in the car and creep slowly by the giant Montgomery Ward picture window, with its Santa Claus display of full-size sleigh and seemingly hundreds of toys spread across the vast panorama of dreams.
Well you know that I love to live with you,
But you make me forget so very much.
I forget to pray for the angels
And then the angels forget to pray for us.
Harrell was locked into a pitcher’s duel with Jeremy Hefner today, or at least a duel of impotent offenses. Harrell gave up a solo shot to the second deck in right to Ike Davis in the fourth on Jewish Heritage Appreciation Day. It seemed to be HaShem’s will that the run be the only one scored until the top of the ninth, when intervention in the form of Jose Altuve appeared.
It was a nice time, when dreams and trust were fierce and strong and full, and there were many bright days of discovery. I was taught to read by the girl who lived across the street, learning on comic books that stoked the flame into a blaze. My oldest friends were made in that neighborhood, some of whom I still have in my life.
That house and that neighborhood hold my earliest memories. I remember watching Yogi Berra play on the TV in the living room, watching the game with my dad. I remember watching JFK’s funeral, wondering about the word ‘caisson’ and thinking of how beautiful the parade of horses was.
Towards the end of our time there, a new family moved in next door, representative of a turn in the neighborhood’s fortunes. Too many kids, too little money, ragged clothes and not much in the way of parents was the next wave. The oldest boy was about a year younger than I was but we all still played together, more a concession to proximity than any other common ground because we were completely different. Their mother’s shrill cawing, accusing them of some petty misdeameanor as she flew out of the house, belt in hand until she reached the object of her anger so she could start flailing rings in my ears even now, 40+ years later.
We met when we were almost young
Deep in the green lilac park.
You held on to me like I was a crucifix,
As we went kneeling through the dark.
Snapping an infield single to a diving Tejada, Altuve stole second on a busted hit-and-run when Shoppach’s throw went about 85 feet and to the shortstop side of the bag. Gonzalez made up for the miss by smacking a dying flare to left that caromed off of Duda’s glove to score Altuve and tie the game.
Wallace hit a rocket to Davis for the second out. Francisco singled to left and Marwin raced home, but a great throw by Duda and a superb block of the plate by Shoppach ended the Astro threat.
Your letters they all say that you’re beside me now.
Then why do I feel alone?
I’m standing on a ledge and your fine spider web
Is fastening my ankle to a stone.
Inevitably, we kids scuffled too. I was older and bigger, so altercations were brief but I didn’t press my advantages other than to end whatever the conflict was. There were several though, since we were so different, and I’m sure the other pressures in his life were pretty strong since I know he got the belt just about every day from one parent or the other.
One day, we were in his front yard playing football and he got upset at something, I don’t remember what. Yelling turned to shoving, and then he came at me and I put him down on the ground, pinned his arms with my knees and committed the gravest rite of embarrassment known to an eight-year-old: I let the thin line of spittle drain down from my lips, slowly, until it drizzled all over his squirming, screaming face. I had won, but this time it was scorched earth.
I got off of his sobbing, humbled body and headed back to my house. An electric sting wracked my side as I walked, then another and another, across my sides, my legs, my head. That feral little bastard had picked up the water hose, and he was using it on me like a bullwhip.
For now I need your hidden love.
I’m cold as a new razor blade.
You left when I told you I was curious,
I never said that I was brave.
In the bottom of the ninth, Wright lined out to lead off Lopez’ second inning of duty. Davis took two pitches outside the zone, then deposited a sinker just past Francisco’s glove in right and over the wall for the game-winning sucker punch. The last laugh belongs to the Mets.
For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by.
The Mets were born in 1962, just like the Astros, born into the National League of steals and bunts and taking the extra base. Doormats for years, the Astros tasted success sooner. The Mets took the role of water until they came out of nowhere in 1969 to wear away the stone of a World Series championship. As relatives and rivals for fifty years, the Astros’ regular season league record against New York ends at 308-258-1. This closes out a strange rivalry, like one between neighbors who share similarities in the face of numerous differences.
Oh, you are really such a pretty one.
I see you’ve gone and changed your name again.
And just when I climbed this whole mountainside,
To wash my eyelids in the rain.