The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Congrats, Mr. B!

Big congratulations to my good friend Alex Belth on his engagement to his lovely gal, Emily. Having met Em and watched a ballgame in the happy couple's home up in Riverdale, I can vouch that Alex is getting one of the good ones. Mazel tov to both, and best wishes for the future.

The news comes with pix and a great story:
Ten minutes later, I had her on the five yard line in the bedroom when the phone rang. "Let it ring," I said as she came in the room with the portable phone. Then thinking that it might be a return call from one of the potential interviews I was going to do I looked at the caller ID. My eyes--according to Emily--almost popped out of my head. "It's Reggie," I said.

And sure enough, it was none other than Mr. October. I picked up the phone and quickly made arrangements for an interview later this week. We weren't on the phone longer than two minutes.

"You're having some kind of fifteen minutes," my fiance[e] says to me.
For the three and a half years Alex and I have known each other, Reggie Jackson has been a constant staple of our conversations. Alex is a year or two younger than me, but he's old enough to remember the 1977, '78, and '81 World Series that pitted Reggie's Yanks against my Dodgers. Reggie was larger than life to kids like us, and it didn't matter whether you were rooting for or against him; you got your money's worth either way. Dude had his own candy bar; even as a Dodger fan, I bought it, ate it. Today I see replays of his swing and think of a cross between the quick-wristed violence of Gary Sheffield, the pose-striking of latter-day Barry Bonds ("I'm this good and I hit it taht far, so I get to watch it, chump...") and both the timeliness and titanic force of David Ortiz. He was a hot dog with extra mustard, with the ability to crush pitches and drop the bat to admire his own handiwork like nobody else. Or corkscrew himself into the ground as he grimaced, coming up empty in the big situation but making the pitcher earn it. Whatever happened, it was always worth watching.

For Alex, the same was true: "When I was growing up, Reggie Jackson was my favorite player," he wrote a few years back. "He dominanted my thoughts; he was my idol." Now, Alex is enough of a player as a writer -- not just his blog, but a fine book (I'm halfway through Stepping Up myself) and a recurring spot on to his credit -- that he's got Reggie's phone number. And just after he's popped the question to the gal of his dreams, here comes Reggie to interrupt his post-engagement canoodling by returning his call.

Mr. October is forever a part of Alex and Em's engagement, just as
Jim Bouton, one of my few heroes, is inextricably linked with the start of my relationship with my wife. Like the game itself, the truth is better than just about any story you can make up.

• • •

And yes, lest it occur to anyone to ask why I've got three posts (and counting) in one day, there are two reasons. First, I'm clearing out a backog of stuff built up from the past few weeks. Second, as my BP and other writing responsibilities have come to the fore, I've been posting here less, mainly because I tend to think in terms of articles, not quick hits. But I miss the latter, miss the immediacy of posting and then moving on, and so I'm trying to force myself into more of what I'll call "Hit and Run" mode, just to shake things up. We'll see how that goes for awhile.

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