Wednesday, September 23, 2015

At The Yankees Saloon...

It's open mic night at the Yankees Saloon, in a fabled place, situated at the corner of E 161st St, River Ave, and a corn field.

Of course, because this is, well whatever this is, then a corn field must be nearby.

Toots Shor is running things, as usual, because everyone wants to be near Toots.

Mystique and Aura, a local band, just finished their set.

Thurman Munson is grumbling over a beer at a corner table, talking hitting and family with Bobby Murcer. He still feels slighted by Sparky Anderson, who said he was no Johnny Bench in 1976. At least that's what Munson still thinks. Murcer just smiles.

Joe DiMaggio, looking like he just stepped out of the California sun, makes sure his hair is perfectly in place before grabbing a drink.

Babe Ruth has just finished a hot dog. This being, you know, the place, Ruth doesn't have to behave himself as well as he did post-1929, when he married Claire. Oh no, the Babe, as heavenly a figure as any, can have all the dogs and beers he wishes.

The Colonel, Jacob Ruppert is here. Of course he is. Before he bought the Yankees, he was a brewer. So he supplies all of the beer to this establishment.

Robert Merrill, the famed baritone, is performing onstage at this point, when suddenly Bob Sheppard, the "voice" of Yankee Stadium, approaches the microphone. Mel Allen, "voice" of the Yankees, is standing nearby. Something is clearly up.

Pete Sheehy, the legendary Yankee Stadium clubhouse attendant, stops things by flicking the lights. This annoys DiMaggio because Sheehy normally does this only for the Yankee Clipper.

The room falls silent. The laughter stops.

Sitting at the bar, Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin wonder if Whitey Ford is finally coming through the door.

"Your attention, please," Sheppard intones. "Now catching, for the Yankees, number eight, Yogi Berra. Number eight."

Phil Rizzuto is the first to speak, uttering, of course, "Holy cow."

Casey Stengel greets Yogi as he comes in. The two always had the closest of relationships.

"I came to the fork in the road," Yogi says. "I took it. It got late early out there."

The place explodes in laughter.

Lou Gehirg ambles over. It's shocking to see The Iron Horse here, but everyone knows he's on his way to either his mother or his wife, Eleanor. He stops to greet Yogi.

"Nice to see you, son," he says, and disappears without a trace.

Bill Dickey is waiting patiently to hug his old friend. There's a lot to suggest that Berra doesn't truly become a Hall of Fame catcher without the tutelage of the gentleman from Arkansas. Of course, Dickey was number eight long before Yogi.

Roger Maris smiles at the site of Yogi. They were teammates in '61 (yes, always 61 with Roger) and Yogi managed Rajah in '64.

All seems to be well in the saloon. Many other Yankees sidle over, waiting for their chance to chat with the man of 10 World Series Championships. Someone offers a Yoo-Hoo, but that won't do in this room.

"Hi ya, Kid," says Ruth (he never knew names anyway). "Barkeep, get this guy a beer."

Elston Howard, not only the first black Yankee in 1955, but a friend of Berra's, and his successor behind the plate, quiets the room for just a moment.

"Friends," he begins, "we have our catcher."

Many in the room nod in approval.

"Yogi," he continues, "we thank you for your service to our country. For being at D-Day."

Hank Bauer, the tough old Marine, quietly chokes up. Only Moose Skowron notices, and doesn't dare say a thing.

"We salute you for all that you did on the diamond," Howard says. "For raising of a wonderful family with your beloved wife, Carmen. We welcome you into the family you knew your always had."

"Thanks, everyone," Berra finally says. "And I don't care what anyone says. Robinson was out at the plate."

Raucous laughter ensues. It's deja vu all over again.

No comments: