Saturday, November 05, 2011

Who's next?

First Matty Alou, now Andy Rooney.

These things happen in threes. Didja ever wonder who might be next? What famous figure will complete the triumverate?

The Alou Brothers were Felipe, Matty and Jesus in order of age. They were altogether large figures in my boyhood of being an obsessive San Francisco Giants fan. I was too young to see them all play in the outfield together in the same game, the only time it ever happened in major league baseball. I was too young to see Matty play for the Giants because they traded him to Pittsburgh after 1965, as they did Felipe to Atlanta, but we still had "Haysoosaloo" and the brothers were always Giants to us. As an eight year old I had no understanding of things like having too many players at one position, or the use of players as bargaining chips. All I knew was that it was so cool to have these three brothers who were all good, playing for my club. On top of which we had Mays, McCovey, and Marichal. (We won't be discussing the Dodgers pitching staff here, or what swine they were to continually do down the Giants) How COULD they trade those guys away. I remember a feeling of almost satisfaction when I saw Felipe play right field for Oakland in 1970 or '71. Then Matty appeared for the Athletics in 1972. It wasn't quite right, but OK. Things were made somewhat right again when Felipe was hired to manage the Giants.

In a larger sense, I had a feeling of gloom when I read about Matty Alou. It's been addressed many times by much better writers than me, but I feel my boyhood slipping away. It might be nonsense for a 53 year old man to think in these terms but there are times when I still feel like a boy. I guess I should be thankful for that, but the flip side is made up of moments like this when an icon of something that made you feel alive passes on. I thought of Matty and I had an immediate memory of the first time I stepped through the entrance to the stands from the concourse around the first level at Candlestick Park. I will never forget the vast immaculate expanse of green outfield and Willie Mays casually tossing those long slightly underhand throws to whoever was playing left field that day. Some infielders were playing pepper with a coach in front of the Giants' dugout. McCovey looked about 9 feet tall at first. It really sunk in, and a good thing too because it was never duplicated.

People rightly criticize the 'Stick because it was a nightmare, and now it's a shithole, but for me, then, it was the End in All. It contained heroes, and meaning, and Matty Alou was part of that even though he was gone to Pittsburgh.

Oh well. At some point I might be forced to accept old farthood in full measure, but let's hope the lasting impact of the Alou Brothers and their fellow ballplayers will prevent that.


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