Hi-Yo, Silver, Away! Let's Go, Mets
Thomas A. Droleskey
As noted on the home page of this site, this article will not appeal to all readers. However, it is being written principally to provide our daughter with a permanent record of some personal thoughts and reflection on a legitimate pleasure, the game of baseball at the major league level, that has made itself, so very sadly, a commodity uninterested in the fostering of an ambiance of innocence so as to protect its young fans from influences that are injurious to their immortal souls.
As I wrote at length over four years ago now (see
Out of the Old Ball Game), when I left my beloved Shea Stadium for the last night during the fourth inning of a game between the visiting Florida Marlins and the New York Mets on Tuesday, July 16, 2002, barring a "turn-back-the-clock" game that would feature the beauty of organ music and not display any of the wretched images on the gigantic television screens (or advertise products that are inappropriate for anyone to view publicly, no less children), I will never enter a major league stadium again. This is very difficult. Let me explain.
I attended over 1600 games at the Polo Grounds and Shea Stadium (and a number of other ball parks around the nation) between July 15, 1962, and July 16, 2002. I watched and listened to thousands more on television and radio from the time that the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants played their final years in Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds, respectively, prior to their departure for the West Coast at the end of the 1957 season. Walking out on the game was very tough, and I did not make the promotion of our book, There is No Cure for This Condition ($5.00, plus $5.00 for shipping and handling, Post Office Box 188, Pine Island, New York 10969), very easy when I walked out at the time I did and then made some media appearances to protest the advertising of a product once popularized by the thirty-third degree Mason by the name of Robert Joseph Dole, Jr. Although I recognized in 2002 that I could no longer support with my own meager resources an industry that had no regard for the innocent of its young fans, I must say, in all candor, that I still miss going to the games, still miss visiting with the stadium personnel (ushers, ticket takers, vendors, fellow fans, the workers at the Diamond Club restaurant, the front office personnel in the ticket office).
As I noted in There's No Cure for This Condition five years ago, I inherited a love of the beauty and the joy of baseball from my late father, Dr. Albert Henry Droleskey, a native New Yorker, born October 10, 1919, who loved his Brooklyn Dodgers. There was quite a void in my father's life when the Dodgers pulled up stakes at the end of the 1957 season to move to Los Angeles, California. Indeed, many men of his age were devastated, not possessing a supernatural sense of detachment from the things, people and places of this passing world. I asked an elderly man at a gasoline station in Bethpage, New York, in April of 1999 if he was following the new season of the New York Mets that began that day. The man's tight-lipped response was, "Nah! I haven't followed baseball since the Dodgers left Brooklyn!" His sentiment was not at all atypical for a man of his generation.
Others, however, found their way clear to follow the National League expansion team that began play, albeit with a colorful ineptitude, under the tutelage of the "Ole Perfessor," Charles Dillon "Casey" Stengel, at the old, old Bush Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, on Wednesday evening, April 11, 1962. That the expansion team, whose roster was filled with has-been and "never-will-be" players, would win the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles seven years later, in 1969, is something that still warms the hearts of those who followed the the Mets from the time they drafted their first players in the expansion draft that was held at the Sheraton Blackstone Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio, on October 10, 1961. Indeed, the joy and the wonder of going to the old Polo Grounds in 1962 and 1963--and Shea Stadium when it opened on April 17, 1964--are indescribable.
That is, Miss Jane Jarvis, first at the Magnavox Organ (1964 to 1965) and then the Thomas Organ (1966 to her retirement in 1979), set the tone at the new ball park in Queens, Shea Stadium, with her wonderful rendition of "Meet the Mets," first introduced to the public in April of 1963, and a composition of her own, "Let's, Go Mets" (yes, I know the words to both quite well, thank you), "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," among other upbeat pieces of music in her standard repertoire played during each game. She would play the theme from Bonanza as the grounds crew dragged the infield at the end of the fifth inning and would play "The Mexican Hat Dance" during the seventh inning stretch. It was just a delight to sit there as a teen-aged boy, professional scorebook in one hand and a fielder's glove in the other, to soak in the atmosphere of a day at the ball park.
The wholesome atmosphere of the "Big Shea," as the soon-to-be-replaced ball park in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York, is called, continued right on through the end of the 1970s as the original owners of the Mets, Mrs. Joan Whitney Payson, who died after the 1975 season, and her daughter, Mrs. Lorinda de Roulet, kept the horror of "rock" music out of the ball park. That changed, almost overnight, when the club was sold in January of 1980 to the partnership of the Doubleday Company, owned by Nelson Doubleday and Sterling Enterprises, owned by real estate magnate Fred Wilpon, a classmate of Sandy Koufax's at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn in 1954. Messrs. Doubleday and Wilpon changed the whole ambiance of Shea Stadium, abolishing the live organ--and the wonderful "Meet the Mets"--almost immediately upon assuming ownership of the club (the club's ownership was changed again in 1986 when Doubleday sold his family's book publishing company and bought his share of the club for himself; Doubleday sold his part of the club in its entirety to Wilpon in 2002 after some well-publicized disputes between the two).
I should have walked out of Shea Stadium right then and there. I didn't. I loved the game of baseball--and the Mets--far too much to make that sacrifice. It took another twenty-two years and the coarsening of popular culture, as well as becoming a husband and a father, to convince me that I could no longer place myself, no less a young child, in an environment when one's soul is bombarded with "music" that comes from the devil and is designed to lead souls to Hell for all eternity. In the meantime, however, I kept going to games, finding the relaxation provided by being at the ball park, especially during batting practice, to be a nice break from my work as a college professor and writer. Going out to the games was my one source of genuine relaxation during my days as a single man. And I enjoyed organizing annual gatherings of friends and colleagues and students, both current and former, in the Picnic Area at Shea Stadium every year. We had about 415 people assembled on the evening of Memorial Day back in 1985, the largest of my approximately fifteen gatherings between 1974 and 2000.
Time has marched on, as I indicated in Baseball and Tradition, April 20, 2004. Although there might be "turn-back-the-clock" games at ball parks now and again, "rock" music has been "mainstreamed" into every aspect of "popular culture." Fans who sit in the expensive box seats think nothing of shouting out profanities and vulgarities right in front of children. Commercial tie-ins between Hollywood and Major League Baseball, the entity that contracts with national advertisers and parcels out revenue streams to each club in return for its participation in promotional ventures, more or less mandate the showing of scenes from motion pictures that contain lewd content. Disgusting, vile images, some of them drawn from horror films, are shown on the gigantic television screens. Each ball player has his own "theme music," most of it taken from some sort of "contemporary" genre (rock, rap, hip-hop, etc.) that is played before he comes to bat or takes the mound to pitch. There is no "turning the clock back" on a permanent basis," which is why I knew that I had to face up to the reality of the situation in 2002 lest I put our daughter's soul in jeopardy by exposing her to sights and sounds that were injurious to her own immortal soul, no matter how much I had convinced myself--make that deceived myself--into thinking that I was "impervious" to those same influences.
I knew that my little protest of four years ago wasn't going to change a thing and that I would probably never be able to take my family to enjoy the innocence that I did as a child. What I wanted to demonstrate to God, however, was that I, a terrible sinner, loved Him more than I loved baseball and that I wanted to make this sacrifice, knowing full well that it would accomplish nothing in this passing world, to Him through His Most Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart so as to undo the harm I have done to my own soul as a result of my sins--and as a result of the inordinate amount of time I may have wasted on following baseball when I should have been paying more attention, especially as a child and teenager, to my interior life of prayer and to learning more about the lives of the saints. Oh, yes, I still dream in my sleep, sometimes several times a week, about breaking my pledge and going into a ball park incognito. The sacrifice, however, would not mean very much if it didn't hurt and if it didn't involve a real effort to maintain.
Mind you, the cocaine scandals of the 1980s and the players' strike of 1994-1995 certainly did tamp down my enthusiasm for the game. The reports of longstanding anabolic steroid use among players certainly confirmed the wisdom of my refusing to subsidize an industry that did not care about the health of its own employees or the messages being sent to its young fans that the use of illegal anabolic steroids was the way to "succeed" in the sport. That the possession of anabolic steroids without a prescription is a Class C felony against Federal law, seems to matter little to Major League Baseball Commissioner Alan H. "Bud" Selig (with whom I crossed swords in early 1990 about the unequal treatment given to the late Mrs. Marge Schott, the former owner of the Cincinnati Reds who had made comments deemed to be offensive to blacks and Jews, and to Ted Turner, who insulted Catholics and the Polish ethnicity of John Paul when he was the largest single-share holder in the company, Time-Warner, that owned the Atlanta Braves) and Major League Baseball Players' Association Executive Director Donald Fehr, both of whom take refuge in the self-serving rationalization that there was nothing that could have been done about the use of such substances in the past because they were not covered in the Collective Bargaining Agreement until 2002. Enough of this is enough.
All of this having been admitted in the full recognition that there is no reliving the past and no recovering the innocence of an era that was influenced to a very large extent by the residual effects of the sensus Catholicus, I will always have an interest in the goings-on in baseball and the Mets. No, I don't watch games. We don't have a television, and I wouldn't watch games even if I had one because of the bad images and the inappropriate advertising. I don't listen to the games, except on very rare occasions when in the New York area and I might happen to be in the car running errands by myself during the baseball season. The only news I get is by means of internet reports that I refer to now and again, especially at night when writing articles for this site.
It would, therefore, be the height of hypocrisy for me to say that I am unaffected by the news I read. I care very much for the friends I had made over the years at Shea Stadium. I am thus very happy for them--and for my fellow fans, especially those who are shut-ins and who have followed the exploits of the Mets as I have from their inception--that the Metropolitans of New York, the New York Mets, are heading to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the St. Louis Cardinals, whom an earlier version of the Mets defeated in five games in the NLCS in the year 2000. It is evidently the case that Mets' manager Willie Randolph is a real, old-fashioned task-master who has sought to instill a sense of hard work and pride in his players. Good for him. I wish the Mets all of the best. And while I learned long ago to accept a Mets' defeat as part of bearing one's daily crosses (I was probably the only Mets' fan who left Shea Stadium on October 26, 2000, when Mike Piazza flied out to Bernie Williams to hand the hated New York Yankees a victory in the World Series at the end of the decisive Game Five, who was singing, "Lift High the Cross"), I would be very happy for the Mets' family, including my friends in the stands and in the front office, if there is another World's Championship this year, the twentieth anniversary of the miracle of Mookie Wilson's ground ball going right between the legs of Bill Buckner in the tenth inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series on Saturday, October 25.
Oh, I could give a fairly good assessment of the upcoming Mets-Cardinal series. I guess I could make a decent living as an analyst in this regard. That is not how Our Lord wants me to spend my time, which is why I will not be following much of the upcoming series once the Fatima Conference at Mount Saint Michael's in Spokane, Washington, begins this coming Thursday, October 12. It is, though, with heartfelt sincerity that the former Lone Ranger of Shea Stadium extends a hearty "Hi Yo, Silver, Away! Let's Go, Mets" to the team of his youth. I will be looking at the results with interest, keeping true to the lesson I learned back in 1962: a Mets' fan learns to expect the worst but to hope for the best! Here's to a round of the original version of "Meet the Mets," which I sing at a moment's notice because of its melodious tune, set to the rhythm of a barbershop quartet ( http://www.thedeadballera.com/MeetTheMets62Version.mp3)!
Such things matter little in the economy of salvation. Our Lord does, though, permit us to enjoy legitimate pleasures in this passing vale of tears. I did enjoy baseball for a long time. And perhaps it will be the case that this great game of intricacy and skill, played without a clock, will regain its innocence during the Reign of the Immaculate Heart of Mary following the fulfillment of her Fatima Message. The lives of many a child will be enriched when the day comes when a Catholic parent who is concerned about safeguard the integrity of his children's souls can once again enter a baseball stadium and enjoy the wonderful delights that characterized a day at the ball park until about twenty or twenty five years ago. Perhaps the sacrifices we make to shield ourselves and our children from those cultural influences that are harmful to our souls, offer to God through Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart as her consecrated slaves, will help to plant the seeds when all things at all times will be done for His greater honor and glory and with a view to our own eternal union with Him in Heaven.
(Mind you, I have refrained from gloating about the demise of the New York Yankees! I do have sensibilities for the afflictions of those who are suffering in this regard at present.)
Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Beloved, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saint John Mary Vianney, pray for us.
Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Martin of Tours, pray for us.
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us.
Saint Athanasius, pray for us.
Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, pray for us.
Saint Dominic, pray for us.
Saint Basil, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Sebastian, pray for us.
Saint Tarcisius, pray for us.
Saint Lucy, pray for us.
Saint Agnes, pray for us.
Saint Agatha, pray for us.
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint John Leonardi, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint John Bosco, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, pray for us.
Pope Saint Pius X, pray for us
Pope Saint Pius V, pray for us.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us.
Blessed Pauline Jaricot, pray for us.
Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro, pray for us.
Blessed Francisco, pray for us.
Blessed Jacinta, pray for us.
Sister Lucia, pray for us.
The Longer Version of the Saint Michael the Archangel Prayer, composed by Pope Leo XIII, 1888
O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. That wicked dragon pours out. as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
Verse: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
Response: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.
Verse: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
Response: As we have hoped in Thee.
Verse: O Lord hear my prayer.
Response: And let my cry come unto Thee.
Verse: Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls.