The National Baseball Hall of Fame
Everyone on the planet knew Pat’s dad. Everyone called him Vinnie except for boys who had designs on his daughters. I called him Mr. B. Patty and her Dad shared a love for everything Baseball –-Indian Ball in the lot by the tracks after supper, radio games on the screened back porch and free seats at the old Sportsman’s Park. Since Patty was Vinnie’s only son, the bond was ever more intense and exclusive.
There were many nights in our pre dating years that I would deliver her home after a night time tennis match or bike ride to the screened back porch. Vinnie would have Harry Carey and the Cardinals on the little tube radio and greet us with that ever cheerful smile and that little look reserved for boys who might have designs …
“What’s the score? … I’ll get the ice cream.”
Patty would head for the freezer and that was my cue to fade away and leave them to devour SIX ice cream cones apiece and sweat bullets until Harry signed off. This was their special time.
I never personally saw Mr. B, a very highly regarded funeral director, hawking souvenir programs, but if he had, this would be a pretty good representation.
We felt Vinnie’s presence all day as we passed a rainy day at the Baseball Hall of fame, reading captions below the mementoes left by the Cardinal greats ––Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Red Schoendienst, Kenny Boyer (who I once considered the biggest obstacle to my future plans for Patty and I.)
If you are a fan, this is the greatest place on earth to recapture epic moments, rekindle that love of stats and averages and box scores. Each team and every ballpark are commemorated. There are clubhouse lockers of the greats with their gloves and uniforms and more caps. There are baseballs –- baseballs with numbers and baseballs with autographs and BATS, lots and Lots of bats. If you are not a big fan and don’t have half a team trailing along to impress, it would be easy to make remarks….It would be easy if you didn’t have a REAL Fan at your side and that fan had not murmured a single syllable while you led her reverently though the Fly Fishing Museum (rods, and feathers and old creels and some more feathers…) Comments could have been made, but were not…