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in the back row of a United 757 en route to LAX, reflecting on my long weekend
in the upper hemisphere and four great ballgames.
three games in what the locals apparently call Balto where seriously good fun
including, as they did, Manny’s 500th and 501st career
home runs, a reunion with Kelly and Beth from San Diego last year and meeting
Cyn, Crystal and Brooke (Crystal’s sister) from SG.
least of the new acquaintances was the legendary Steve who appears in a number
of these photos. He must be the most photographed stuffed ferret on Earth,
although some say he’s actually alive.
downer of the Baltimore experience
for me was losing some gear to an opportunist thief who broke a window in my rental
car to nick an MP3 player and a GPS system. The Maryland Transit Police
couldn’t have been more helpful, which is more than can be said for the Hertz
tow truck guy, who took two hours to arrive and couldn’t find the Hertz lot for
another hour. The lot was less than three miles from where the break-in
500th came earlier that evening, after a day of torrential summer
rain and a brief palooze with Kelly, Cyn et al (who the F**k is al – Ed.) in
Sliders, a bar that contrived to run out of hamburger on what must have been
one of their busiest days of the season. Dinks.
Manny shot was the most amazing thing I’ve seen in a ballpark, a no-doubter into
the centrefield bleachers that I followed for all of its flight. There is no other
sound like the noise which greeted its landing. The whole stadium exploded and
cheering, screaming and clapping continued well into the next at-bat. I have no
clue sitting here who pitched, what the count was, what the game situation was.
None of that matters. I saw a 500th home run. There have only been
23 before this and I was there, crying as it turned out.
was in the far right field club seats, level with the foul pole and had a great
view of the flight and the scramble for the ball, won by a true fan, a Mr Woo,
who immediately gave it back to Manny and will surely find a place in baseball
the Friday and Sunday games I had seats with Kelly, Beth, Cyn and Steve. Apart
from Steve they are raucous, passionate, funny and delightful company. Steve
said little but always had a daft grin on his face. He knows when he’s well
game included a standing O for Manny and #501 and was followed, for me by the Mount Vernon staff picnic,
held in the grounds of Washington’s home overlooking the Potomac. I got to see
Kiana, her Mom Stacey, and my sister Anne and to savour the fabulous view and
an idyllic summer’s evening. Oh, and I persuaded the DJ to play Dirty Water.
much for Balto (its abbreviated that way on road signs and on the Light Rail system
maps) and on for a flying visit to Bahston. I had figured that, after coming
12000 miles, I couldn’t not go to Fenway.
highlight here, apart from returning for the first time in three years, was the
truly awesome standing O Manny got on his first at-bat. If the Sox FO don’t
exercise their options next year and in 2010, they should be taken out and
on this occasion took the form of a one-on-one session in the Cask & Flagon
with Josh Blue who can drink free Guinness like a native. (I kid, JB, if you’re
reading this). For some reason, probably not unrelated to the Sam Adams consumed, I have no photographic record.