Mets infielder offers perspective at Working Families Summit in DC
NEW YORK -- Among the more preposterous developments in professional sports this calendar year are the idiot notion that LeBron James punked out in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and the ludicrous uproar prompted by second baseman Daniel Murphy missing the Mets' first and second games to be present for the birth of his son. Those who found fault with King James and Murphy ought to be muzzled or have their devices confiscated and not returned until Noah Murphy turns 1.
The Murphy scenario in April prompted the White House to invite the Mets' paternal second baseman to speak at the Working Families Summit on Monday. Someone in D.C. was paying attention; good for whomever. Perhaps the invitation and Murphy's participation removed some of the foolish taint his detractors had applied with the ignorance brush.
Murphy enjoyed himself in the nation's capital. He made the trip with wife Tori, Noah and Tori's parents. Murphy spoke, noting that cutting the umbilical cord was a more rewarding experience than any hit he might have produced against the Nationals and that he will be a father long after his playing days have ended.
Murphy's presence at his son's birth set no big league precedent, not even close. Witness this episode, involving Duke Snider, from January 1995:
The Dodgers' Hall of Fame center fielder and cup-of-coffee Met had been invited to the annual winter awards dinner staged by the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America in Manhattan. He, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle had returned to where they made their most indelible marks to accept the first "Willie, Mickey and The Duke" Award. Their presence made for an extraordinary evening.
Hours before the dinner, Snider visited the writers' suite. His knock at the door was answered by another guest, one Fred Brash of Waldwick, N.J., a friend, a native of Brooklyn and the most avid and knowledgeable fan of Brooklyn baseball I've ever known. Brash had been a "'stile guy" at Ebbets Field in the 1940s and '50s. He worked the turnstiles and watched every play he could.
"Come in, Mr. Snider," Fred Brash said as he opened the door. "Nice to meet you. I watched you play your whole time in Brooklyn. My name is Fred Brash."
Brash, in his late 70s at the time, didn't gush. He was pleased to meet a hero but treated him cordially, professionally. Brash didn't request an autograph. He had a Pee Wee, a Campy and a Jackie. And fastened to a shingle on the back of his home, near the picnic table, was a laminated letter he had received years earlier from Oisk, known as Carl Erskine to those unable to speak Brooklyn-ese.
Brash was a great fan. He identified those Dodgers as "my guys," hated Walter O'Malley and every member of the New York Giants and as other Dodgers happily acknowledged "knows more about us than we do."
Snider chatted with Brash and others in the room for several minutes. But when Duke bade us farewell, Brash stepped forward and placed his left hand on Snider's right shoulder. "Hey Duke, just a minute," Brash said, and Snider delayed his exit.
"In '56, the Reds were in town, and they had only right-handed starters lined up. And you were our left-handed bat. What the hell were you doing, going home [to Los Angeles] just because your wife was having a baby? Were you nuts? We weren't even in first place. What were you thinking? It's damn good thing we ended up clinching that year."
Snider would have been less surprised if an Old English B had formed on Brash's forehead and his questioner had turned Dodger blue. An incredulous expression formed on his face. He turned to me and asked, "Is this guy for real?"
I said, "Absolutely, 100 percent."
Brash relented, summoned a smile and said to Snider, "I've been wanting to talk to you about that."
And Snider told him, "You proved you're from Brooklyn, buddy."
More baby talk
Shortly after catcher Mackey Sasser arrived at his first Mets Spring Training camp in February 1988, he announced his wife was about to give birth. He left camp early one day because "she's having contraptions."
A Game 7 shutout
Newsday's policy at one time was to have its baseball beat writers change beats at the All-Star break. I thought the practice made for late-July and early-August ignorance. And by spring 1986, I had persuaded a great boss, Dick Sandler, to abandon that plan. I covered the Mets in Spring Training, throughout the regular season and into the playoffs. But I missed Game 6 -- all 16 innings of it -- of the National League Championship Series. My wife was due that day and I was home with her in Waldwick, N.J. I missed the World Series games in Boston, too. But I was at Shea for the Buckner Game and would have been there for Game 7 had it not been postponed. Lindsay Marie Noble was born Oct. 27, within minutes of Darryl Strawberry's home run in the eighth. (I heard cheering outside the delivery room). The score for Game 7 was 8-5, so was Lindsay's weight.