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Sandlot Baseball – The Splendid Summer of 1961 (Part 2)

July 7, 2010

The thing I remember most about the early afternoon of September 1st, 1961, was how excited my mother seemed to be when she called me into the house to tell me of the phone call she had just received from my father at work. She told me that he had a surprise for me and that he would share it with me when he got home. When I pleaded with her to tell me what it was, she would only smile and said, “You’re going to love it.”

The rest of the day I dreamed of what it might be. My first thought was that it would be my very own dog, maybe a beagle like Taffy, the dog I always played with next door. Maybe it was a new bike or baseball bat. No, I thought to myself, I just had my birthday. With school just around the corner, I thought it could be something to do with new clothes. I knew I wasn’t going to love that possibility. And then, I had it – Red Sox tickets! I thought about it some more and realized Boston was playing the Twins in Minnesota for the weekend and wouldn’t be back at Fenway till Monday against the Cleveland Indians. Well, that could be it, I thought – a great Labor Day surprise. That was it; I was certain.

I don’t remember all the details that day when my father came home after work. I think my brother, sister, mother and I were all in the kitchen when he handed me a piece of paper. At first I was disappointed because it was obviously not the Red Sox ticket I had expected. When I saw that it was one of his business papers I was even more discouraged. And then, I remember he said, “Turn it sideways.” I did and this is what I saw:


My mother was right. I loved it. Still do.

Ted Williams (also known as “The Splendid Splinter”) retired as a Red Sox player in 1960. He hit a home run in his final at-bat, on September 28, 1960, at Fenway Park. Almost one year later, I would have his autograph, a wonderful gift from my father – and to some degree my mother, whose excitement for me that day I’ll always remember…

Diary Entry for Friday, September 1: Dad met Ted Williams and got his autograph. I played with Taffy the dog. We played baseball.

  1. Wow, Now that’s a hard day to top. Kind of a dream day for a young boy. Cool that you still have the autograph. Great post, Bill

  2. Maryellen Mavrides-Fielding permalink

    This comment is in reference to your mother. She was the nicest Mom I knew growing up! She reminded me of Mrs. Cleaver on “LEAVE IT TO BEAVER”. If I played with Debbie after school; she would always give us some activity or toy to play with in the back yard and would often give us a cold drink or snack. On my 8th birthday I got a tiny 1″ square wrapped gift. It fascinated me. I waited and opened it last. It was a small plastic box from a gumball machine. Inside was a crisp one dollar bill,folded ever so small and perfect. I thought that was the coolest present because it was so clever and creative. I’m in my mid-50’s and still remember it with awe and fascination. That’s your mom that I remember. Thoughtful,creative,YOUNG,pretty, and oh, so nice. Just like Mrs. Cleaver! I thought you kids were so lucky to have her for a mom!

  3. Maryellen,
    Thank you so much for sharing that story and your very kind words about my mom. That doesn’t surprise me about the clever gift she made for you. She was always doing that kind of thing. Still does…I’ve sent her your message. I’m sure she will appreciate your fond memories.

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