On being a Yankee’s fan
When I was a child, my family sojourned from Texas’ sweltering coast out to New Mexico to a sprawling Baptist convention center called Glorieta. It accommodated 3,000 people using a staff of retirees that oversaw a few hundred college students working for God and very little money.
Some division of the Sunday School Board trained each week all summer and all held worship every night of the summer except Fridays. My mother’s parents, my Mamma and Pappaw, managed various posts and spent their summers up there.
A child from the Texas Gulf Coast wearing a sweater in July? Climbing over boulders, chasing Horned Toads, seeing deer, and going rock hunting on afternoons to find mine tailings of white quartz interlaced with rose — these comprised as good a picture of Heaven as I needed to that point.
And in the evenings I raptly listened to music from musicians around the country in choirs, orchestras, and an organ that shook my chest — except when Mammaw could get the Yankees on her little transistor TV with rabbit ears. We hid out in her hotel room.
Mammaw added her own coverage about Marris, Mantle, Yogi and the Boys of Summer like a school girl swooning at Elvis. I watched a grainy four-inch screen where the diamond was easy to recognize, but Marris and Mantle looked like identical grainy twins. How did she know which was which?
When the Yankees were ahead, all was marvelous. When the world’s evil forces arose to thwart them, it drove my Mammaw to the closest swear word in her extensive vocabulary — “Bears!”
So the Yankees, God, the Mountains, astounding choral and orchestral music all formed one seamless, living and breathing snapshot of Heaven for me.
Fan for life. That included Steinbrenner and Reggie, Mr. October, Jackson who came, and like summer faded in their times.
And in this latest instantiation it included the Rocket, Pettite, The Captain, and Mariano Rivera, who along with others led a Bible study in that hallowed ground while quietly making others fan his career into the Hall of Fame.
The Yankees are hopelessly out of the playoffs. They will rebuild. Mariano is the next-to-last member of a team that came together — to leave. He played his last game this week, and he could have rolled every pitch to home plate; Yankee fans would still have stood to give an ovation to one of their longest serving, brightest Boys of Summer. And Mammaw? She cheered from Heaven because the best Yankees love God, and the organ music as it fills the park, and the orchestral smack of the bats, gloves, and crowds; and when the air gets cold in October as in the Mountains? Then they play their best.