Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Big Red Machine,Bob Shreve and a dead barber.

In 1971 and 1972 I had the experience of a lifetime.
My hair was kinda big in 1972.
I was rocking an afro or as we Jewish kids called it back then a Jewfro.
 My dad was raising money for the Kid Glove game that benefited little league baseball in Greater Cincinnati.I was allowed to be the bat boy for the celebrity game before the Reds played the Indians in an exhibition game.Celebrities included local D.J.s and TV news anchors and Bob Shreve of the Past Prime Playhouse.A late night staple on Channel 19 that showed "B" movies along with Bob and his cast of shtickmeisters to fill air time on late Saturday nights.I was assigned to hand out bats in the Cleveland dugout.I knew that across home plate as the game went on were some of the members of "The Big Red Machine".Every time I stepped out onto the field I looked up in awe at the huge stadium that would be the home of 3 World Series Championship teams.
I approached Bob Shreve with a bat and told him how I loved watching his show every Saturday.He told me how much fun they had doing the show and was very appreciative of my compliments.
I have no memory of who won the game.But after it was over I was allowed into the Reds dugout.As I crossed home plate I got a huge lump in my throat.I stepped down into the dugout and can only say that it reminds me of the scene in the movie "Field of Dreams" when Ray Kinsella sees all the players on his corn field and starts realizing they are some of the legends of the game and he is in total awe.I had a baseball,a glove,and a Bick ballpoint pen(Sharpies?) and as I stepped down into their special sanctuary I silently walked up to each and every player that was milling about.Bench,Perez,Morgan even Sparky ,the manager .I really wanted Pete Rose but he was too busy being interviewed by a few reporters so I kept my distance.As my time in the dugout came to a close I heard a loud voice calling out to me from a few feet away,"Hey kid come 'ere".I turned to see Davey Concepion sitting on top of the bench between a few players.He was motioning for me to come over to him.I hurried over to him to see what he wanted."Hey kid?", he asked."Yes Mr.Concepion?",I replied quizzically.He scratched his head with his voice loud enough so many of the surrounding players could hear him."I was being set up and didn't even know it.Me innocent,in awe of the greatness surrounding me had no idea."Kid let me ask you a tough question?",he prodded with a somewhat thick Spanish accent as he reached toward my 'fro of curly hair.
"Did you barber die?".The dugout erupted in laughter.I think I laughed.I didn't answer him as much as I remember myself being in awe of all these guys who were my heroes sharing a laugh with me even if it was at my expense.
Life went on after that day and I took my signed ball and glove home and instead of placing them in a case to save for the rest of my life.I continued using the glove.The ball I don't remember what happened to that artifact.I still collect baseball cards and memorabilia but the true memories are in the experiences not in a piece of paper or a ball but in your heart and mind.
Being the butt of a joke for one of the greatest teams that ever played the game of baseball and witnessing them compete in all those games in the 70's will stay with me forever.

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