Sunday morning, August 28, 2016.
Hank Greenberg, Father Blonde’s baseball hero, parking one in the summer of 1945. This was taken at a game in Detroit, but it’s likely the next time the Tigers were in Philadelphia, the then 13 year old Father Blonde was in the stands hoping to see the Hammer belt one out of Shibe Park. Photo courtesy of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I got resoundingly booed yesterday when I started to give the toast to Father Blonde at the luncheon Mother Blonde hosted after the funeral. Maybe I shouldn't have led off with the fact that I'm a Mets fan. Probably shouldn't have added the score of Friday night's game either. But I just had to point out the happy irony that the Mets and the Phils are playing each other this weekend.
Don't worry, I won the crowd back right away when I told them how Joe never held my being a Mets fan against me. And this is true: there were years when he was happy the Mets were doing well, not just because he was happy for me (the way he was happy for Pop Mannion when the Dodgers were having a good year), but because he felt losing served the Phillies right. Joe grew up a Phillies fan when the Phils were busy losing most of the games that have added up to making them the losingest team in MLB history. In 1945, when he was 13, the Phils went 46-108. He never got over it. The Athletics weren’t much better---52 and 98---but he went to more of their games, partly because it hurt less to watch them lose, mainly because they were in the American League and that meant the Tigers to town regularly and Joe would go to see his hero, Hank Greenberg. (Greenberg was home from the war in ‘45. In ‘46 when Ted Williams was back, Joe went to see the Athletics play the Red Sox too. When the Cardinals were in town to play the Phillies, he’d go their games to see Stan Musial. Both the Phillies and the A’s played in Shibe Park, a half hour trolley ride from Joe’s parents’ house in Havertown.) So I don't think he'd have minded that the Mets won 9-4 Friday night and then clobbered Philadelphia again last night 12-1. In fact, he would have wanted to talk about it this morning more than I would have, because complaining about the Phillies is apparently more fun for their fans than cheering them on.
So, for Father Blonde's sake, I hope the Mets complete the sweep today. Because that's the kind of devoted son-in-law I am.