Congrats to Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar for their induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday in Cooperstown, New York.
I was always a fan of Blyleven for the simple reason that he was my grandpa's favorite player. How did that happen? My grandpa, who wasn't a big baseball fan, was born in Holland and when he found out that Blyleven was born there he followed his career.
Blyleven was born in Zeist, Holland and my grandpappy was born in Rotterdam. There was an age gap though. My grandfather was born in 1901 while Blyleven was hatched in 1951 and came to North America when he was two. First stop Canada then a few years later California.
Off track here but one of my grandpa's sayings, if you said something he really didn't care about, was, "Amsterdam, Rotterdam, I don't give a damn!" It was actually pretty funny when he said it.
I would spend my summers in the Bronx with my grandpa and basically play or watch baseball all day, every day. My schedule was simple. My gramps would wake up around 7o'clock for breakfast then by 8 I out the door, on my bike to play baseball at Van Cortland Park. We would play pickup games that would last until around noon. Then we would break for lunch and have hot dogs or pizza. My grandpa gave me three dollars a day and that seemed like a fortune to eat lunch. Then around 1 or so we would play more baseball. Or, sometimes we would get on the train and go to Yankee Stadium to watch the Yanks or go to Macombs Dam Park in the shadow of Yankee Stadium to play the kids there. That is where the new Yankee Stadium sits so you could say I played on that site well before Jeter did. Then at night, after dinner, we would gather in the school yard of PS 19 to play stickball since they had lights. It was always a fun summer. If I didn't go to the school yard to play stickball it was because the Yankees were on TV, WPIX, Channel 11 with The Scooter, Phil Rizzuto at the mike with Frank Messer.
The only thing I didn't like about my grandpa was that he made me drink buttermilk. God that stuff is awful. It used to give me gag reflex. Just terrible stuff. Gramps would always say, "Drink it, it will put hair on your chest." I was 10 years old. I didn't want hair on my chest. It must have worked because now I have hair on my chest. Not like a furry animal but just enough to drive the ladies wild!
My grandfather died in 1995. I'm sure he would be pleased that a ballplayer from his homeland made it to the Hall of Fame.