I'm a lifelong Yankee fan. No, I didn't just jump on the bandwagon when they started winning World Series again in the 1990s, and I'm not a "follow the winner type" (my favorite NBA team is the woebegone Nets. Sigh.). It actually began when I was maybe seven or eight years old. I had gotten the distinct impression that my grandfather didn't like me. I can understand why--he had had two daughters, and then his oldest daughter (my mother) had three daughters, with me being number three, the last in a long line of disappointments. I think he was exasperated and annoyed by the fact that he couldn't get the much yearned for boy in his family. To top it off, I was neither pretty nor charming, not the kind of girl who could make a cranky old man forget that he thought he should have had a son or grandson. I thought, though, that if I tried to be interested in things he was interested in, he would be less gruff and critical. When he came over to our house during the summer he would turn on the TV and watch the Yankees game. I sat with him and he did not teach me about the game, nor did he steep me in Yankees lore, or tell me anecdotes about his own visits to the stadium (I never found out if he actually saw a game in person or not, but I suspect he did, because my mom's now 90 year old cousin has told me about going to Yankee games in the 1930s and '40s). He mostly yelled at the screen when someone got thrown out while stealing, popped out, or struck out. I realized after a while that I was wasting time with him and instead devoted all my time to my grandmother, who taught me how to play poker and whist, and was all around wonderful. She liked to watch old movies on TV that she remembered seeing in the theater, and I liked watching them with her. It couldn't have been easy being married to my grandfather, who mostly expected a wife to wait on him (he was apparently spoiled rotten by his mother and sisters), but my dad always said that the one thing in life that really made her happy was her grandchildren. I'm glad I was able to help a little bit. But though I gave up on my grandfather, I didn't give up on baseball.
(I know, too much about me.)
All this leads me to Jane Leavy, who was a baseball crazed little girl growing up in New York in the 1950s, whose beloved grandmother aided and abetted her Yankee addiction, which was much worse than mine, and included a huge crush on the big star of the period, Mickey Mantle. She became a sportswriter, and got the chance to meet her idol, which was not...well, not the way I'm sure she dreamed of it when she was a little girl and a big fan. He was rude and crude to start with, then drunk, and ended the event by hitting on her and passing out. Aren't you glad now that you never met your childhood hero (or if you did, I hope it went a little better)?
Leavy includes this story in her new book about Mantle: The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood. I'd read her earlier book on Sandy Koufax, so my expectations for this book were high. They were met.