I spent Tuesday evening with some tremendous New York National League baseball fans. But I wasn't at Shea. Wasn't even watching the Mets. I had to pick up our game in transit and in fragments from the eighth inning on.
This was a night for New York Giants baseball and the quarterly (more or less) meeting of the New York Giants Historical Society, which actually has dissolved of late into the Giants Fan Club. We seem to be a breakaway republic from the original organization. It's not official. Nothing about this is official. It's just a bunch of guys who were New York Giants fans getting together in a Chinese restaurant in Riverdale to talk Giants baseball, the good old days and whatever comes to mind.
I'll admit to feeling like a bit of a camp follower in this group, having missed the entire existence of the New York Giants the first time around. That's why I have to attend these meetings, to get the only taste I'll ever get of what it was like to burrow into Coogan's Bluff, to descend the Brush Staircase, to sneak into the Polo Grounds when the ticket-takers weren't looking. That's something our organizer used to do 65 or so years ago. I'm guessing the statute of limitations has run out on that particular crime.
As I've hinted, indicated and implied along the way, I'm a time-displaced Giants fan. I fell in love with the idea of the New York Giants when I was a kid and everything I've read about the life they led from 1883 through 1957 only makes me root for them in memoriam more. Not the San Francisco Giants. They're just some team that plays the Mets.
Unfortunately, most of my Tuesday night cohorts have stuck with that organization from 3,000 miles away. I can see why, I suppose. They grew up in the '30s and '40s and '50s as Giants fans. Nobody warned them that someday their team would relocate. What were they going to do, become Mets fans?
Yeah, that would be what they should've done, what lots of Giants fans did, but there's something to be said for holding out and holding on, keeping the torch burning (in case Horace Stoneham should show his face at one of our meetings) back east. Guys who maintain a connection to the San Francisco Giants are more likely to want to get together to relive the New York Giants, and that works for me.
Let me not make these fellas sound sad-sackish. They're not. They know the score. They know what's going on. They're in 2005 even if they will forever regret what happened in 1958, the year the New York Giants and their Brooklyn counterparts set up shop elsewhere. As we passed around various articles and souvenirs for mutual inspection, somebody recommended a book that chronicles the Giants' first year on the West Coast.
“I'd like to get that book,” somebody else said. “And use it to heat my house.”
While I could think of a worse future for the likes of us than gathering around a distant table and rehashing with 70% accuracy what it was like back at the turn of the millennium…
“Remember the time Valentine wore a fake mustache and glasses in the playoffs? And that game where the two outfielders played cards with the bases loaded in center? Wasn't that the game with the single that went for a grand slam? Piazza hit that. He won the series. Because Pratt couldn't play. Or was that the year Tony Perez got thrown out at home by Todd Zeile because he didn't hustle?”
…I hope it never comes to that and only that. I hope our team doesn't disappear out from under us and give us nothing more than a Chinese restaurant in Riverdale three or four times a year. It's bad enough that the tenured members of the Giants Fan Club have to live in such a world. I'm merely a visitor there. I'd hate to be a permanent resident.