- Faith and Fear in Flushing - https://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Conversation With My Son, Circa 2014

“Joshua, do you know you saw Dontrelle Willis pitch back before you even knew you loved baseball?”

“The D-Train? Really?”

“Yep. It was early in his career — we were still getting used to the D-Train thing then. That Reed Richards leg kick still made our eyes pop. And back then we hadn't gotten it through our heads that he could really hit, too.”

“Wow, Dad. How many wins did he have back then? Hey, did I see his 100th win?”

“Nope. He was just 23 years old. You saw … let's see. Win Number 37. You were more interested in ice cream and pushing the seat up and down and the bag of the woman in the row behind us, because it had giraffes and lions and birds on it. You were only two and a half. But Dontrelle beat us in just 2 hours and 20 minutes, so it was the first time you stayed for an entire big-league game. That was nice of him, at least.”

“It wasn't my first game?”

“No. You don't want to know about your first game [1], trust me. Ask Uncle Greg about it some time.”

“I was two? So this was at Shea, not Federated First Union Bankshares Field?”

“Yeah, it was at Shea. Boy, do I not miss that old rattletrap.”

“I know, I know. I've heard the stories. So how many did Dontrelle strike out?”

“Just seven. But it was a three-hit shutout. We barely touched him all day.”

“Not even David Wright got a hit?”

“Not even David Wright. He was young then too, you know. Lined out to end the game. It was kind of a crazy ninth inning — Dontrelle hit Mike Cameron, fanned Carlos Beltran, Mike Piazza hit a hard bouncer that Dontrelle snagged, and Wright lined out. But even though it was only 3-0, you knew we didn't have a chance.”

“That was Piazza's last year as a Met, right?”

“Right. Wish we could have gotten him a ring, but the Nationals just ran off and hid, and we yo-yo'ed around .500 all year. You know, come to think of it, Piazza was the first player you cheered for. The crowd was yelling 'Let's Go Mets' in the ninth and you looked out at the field and said, 'Get a hit, Mike!' Your mom and I were very proud of you.”

“Dad, if you get all Harry Chapin on me, I'm outta here. Shutout by the D-Train. You must have been booing like crazy.”

“Me? Boo Dontrelle? No way. Nobody could boo Dontrelle. Baseball could use a dozen more just like him.”

“Who started for us?”

“Victor Zambrano. Pitched pretty well, but got the loss.”

“The guy we traded Scott Kazmir for?”


“Why do we always make these stupid trades?”

“That's a good question. Still, you have to understand Victor actually turned into a pretty good pitcher. He gets a bad rap.”

“Right, dad. And what's his name…Jim Fregosi was a great third baseman.”

“Broke his finger in spring — oh, never mind. You know, you saw a few great players that day. Here, look at the box score [2].”

“Reyes and Wright, that's pretty cool. And Miguel Cabrera! But wait…oh, I guess that was before he won the Triple Crown as a Yankee.”

“Yeah, goddamn it. I remember one day that summer we were watching the game on TV and you turned around and announced, 'We don't like the Yankees.' We figured you'd turn out OK after that.”

“What'd I tell you about getting all sentimental, Pop?”


“It's OK. Thanks for showing me that old box score. It was pretty cool to look at.”

“My pleasure. Hey, you realize you got a chance to see Jose Offerman and Gerald Williams play, too?”


“Nothing, kid. Bad joke.”