Here‘s the schedule of all 2015 Major League Baseball games. If history’s any guide, I won’t be at any of them.*
I’m not a fan. Arguably, it was the intense shame of swinging at and missing the 3-2 pitch with bases loaded in Color War — with Timmy Morse, on the opposing team, shouting, “Choke, batta, choke!” — that turned me gay . . . though I’m pretty sure (given my 14-year-old fantasies about Timmy) the die had been long since cast.
OK, I’m terrified of baseball . . . which is why I find my friend Billy Bean’s story all the more compelling. He was secretly gay, too. But he went on to play for the Dodgers. And he was recently named Major League Baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion . . . and even more recently invited to play on Orel Hershiser’s team in Dodger stadium, the three-inning “old-timers game” saluting the 50th anniversary of their 1965 World Series championship.
And he got a base hit off Fernando Valenzuela’s fastball on a 2-0 pitch, one of his team’s only three hits.
He writes about the experience, wonderfully, here. In very short part:
. . . The camaraderie was amazing, the stories and memories vivid, though there was a hint of sadness knowing our best days were behind us. But it was still wonderful. . . . When the game was over, Lasorda yelled at me to come over by him. My old teammate — and one of baseball’s great personalities — Mickey Hatcher, walked up with me. Tommy put his arm around me, and he began to tell Mickey about my first day as a Dodger when he mistakenly thought I was a batboy.
I guess things are beginning to change.
Here’s a photo Billy sent me. I didn’t know who the other guy was:
“Andy,” Billy chided — “that’s Sandy Koufax!” The youngest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. And Jewish! (He chose not to pitch Game 1 of their 1965 championship World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur — in interesting contrast to Billy’s having to play the day after his partner died and not let anyone know, lest his shameful secret be revealed, as recounted in his memoir, Going the Other Way.)
Yes, even in Major League Baseball things are beginning to change.
Is this a great country, or what?
*I have been to two: a Brooklyn Dodgers game my Uncle Lou took me to when I was 9 and a Red Sox game where Bobby Orr — who even I knew was no baseball player — poured us plastic cups of white wine to boost Boston’s bid for the 2000 Democratic National Convention.