The World According to Keitho

Just another weblog

Commencing countdown engines on

Posted by keithosaunders on March 6, 2011

When I lived in New York, like most Mets fans I hated everything about the Yankees.  Believe it or not, however, there was one thing about them I found likable.   

In those days I taught piano three days a week at a catholic school up in Yonkers, a town just north of the Bronx on the Hudson river.  On my drive there I had several routes, each more complicated than the last.  The idea was to avoid the Major Deegan Expressway (I 87) at all costs.  On the way home it didn’t save any time to avoid the Deegan since it was rush hour and all the roads were equally crowded.  I would grit my teeth and do battle with the Deegan.

Roughly halfway through the Bronx, just off the Deegan, sits Yankee Stadium.  There used to be this marquee perched on the top of the Stadium’s facade.  After the season was over the marquee read Thank you fans, a missive that would last a month or so, to be replaced with Happy Holidays for the bulk of December.

My favorite time of the winter was after the new year.  This was when the marquee began counting down the number of days until pitchers and catchers.  Then, in mid-February, when the pitchers and catchers reported, the countdown until opening day would commence.

I always looked forward to passing the marquee.  Somehow it made those long, cold winter nights a little more bearable to know exactly how many weeks and days until the beginning of baseball.  Rather than dwell on the sad reality that there was nothing to watch on TV except boring, meaningless mid-season NBA and NHL games, I would focus on the inexorable approach of a happier, warmer season.

I appreciated the fact that someone in the upper echelon of the Yankee brass — who knows, maybe even The Boss himself — took the time and trouble to update such a whimsical marker.  It was a childlike endeavor in the best sense of the word.  I felt like a kid passing that big ball orchard in the South Bronx, figuring out how many weeks the countdown translated into. 

When they built the new stadium and tore down the old one they neglected to include a marquee —  it wouldn’t have been visible from the Deegan anyhow.  There was an electronic bulletin board just to the right of the highway, but it was never used for any kind of countdown.  The era of whimsy had closed.

Oh, I almost forgot…there are 25 more days until opening day.


4 Responses to “Commencing countdown engines on”

  1. jb said

    Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.

  2. LOL That part of Iowa looks a LOT different the than the section of Iowa that I live in…We have a baseball stadium but there’s a prison three blocks north of it.

    I wouldn’t want a street named after me because then if it got busy and there was a bunch of accidents people would think I was a tool.


  3. Keven Costner stepped in the bucket. He had the worst actor swing ever.

  4. jb said

    Yeah, but JEJ’s little speech was “baseball” . . .

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