Bensonhurst, Brooklyn; - In my travels Friday morning I had the pleasure of meeting two older gentlemen; neighbors and friends to each other; who were inspired to jeer me about a Red Sox jersey I was wearing. And that's when we got-a-talkin' about Baseball.
Gentleman Number One: ...A Veteran of the Korean War.
When he was a young boy, he jumped the local Trolley and made his way with friends over to Ebbets Field. With no tickets, they had every intention of sneaking in. For brevity sake, they made it in..... Just in time to see a guy named Johnny Mize of the N.Y. Giants, belt a home run to beat the Dodgers.
Later that same season, they had the same plan; no tickets and a plan to sneak in. They made it inside again just in time to see a guy named Johnny Mize belt a home run to beat the Dodgers...again!
When Johnny Mize started playing for the Yankees, that kid was hooked. He became a Yankee fan for life while living in Brooklyn during the NYC Hey Days. Mickey Mantle was his idol; of course.
He also had little, if anything good things to say about Joe Pepitone, whom he claims to know.
Gentleman Number Two: ...A little more elderly than the first Gentleman; he is a Veteran of WWII and stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day; piloting landing crafts while serving in the Navy.
He played Class-D ball (as they referred to the Minors back then) in the Yankees' system in Newark, and elsewhere; and once competed against a young prospect named Phil Rizzuto for a shortstop job.
He grew up as a New York Giants fan in Brooklyn. His favorite player; then turned manager; was Mel Ott. He said Joe DiMaggio was damn-near a perfect ball player and that Bob Feller could blow away any player today.
He said meeting his wife after the war, more than anything, ended his playing career.