it was 1977. yankees won the world series. he had just come from the dominican republic and he loved baseball. he had dreams of being the next juan marichal! and from his neighborhood of washington heights, he can see the lights of yankee stadium!
he would always reminisce with his son, monito. well, his nickname around the block was mono so his son automatically became 'monito'. he'd always reminicse telling him the same stories over and over again as if it were the first time he was telling him. and little monito would listen as
if it were the first time he ever heard the story.
if it were the first time he ever heard the story.
“so the yankees won the world series in 77, papi?”
“yeah son! and the following year 1978 the yankees won again!”
the dream of being a major leaguer seemed possible for mono. after all, yankee stadium was so close that he walked from washington heights to yankee stadium. walked across the 181st bridge, down university avenue, straight to 161st. Yankee Stadium!
“and what happened in the 80’s, papi?” as if he hadnt heard the story a dozen times already!
“I was to go to the big high school up the block and I couldnt wait to go to high school and pay baseball! “
“G. Dubbs. right, papi?”
“thats right. george washington high school! and so one day I was running out the building to meet kojak.”
“and why they called him kojak, papi?”
“because he shaved all his hair off. so i ran out down the steps of the building …”
“and a baseball flew passed... right, papi?"
“yeah! seconds before someone had yelled out ---"
“that’s right. and i caught the ball and threw it back. 'thanks mono.'"
why’d they called you a monkey papi?”
“cuz i loved eating bananas. so i said: ‘hey manny, ill see you next year at G Dubbs!'”
“manny ramirez! coooooool, papi. so cool! he lived right upstairs!”
it was 1983. the yankees had lost their winning streak but the baseball fever never lessened. as hot at the sun hitting the asphalt, mono’s dream was still blazing! And the mets get daryll strawberry. and won 2 straight years in a row!
so he continues to tell his son about the time when he didnt tell his mother he was heading down to see the yankees at yankee stadium….
mono and kojak, together with blondie, mcGyver and dennis the menace, went down to yankee stadium, but mono never told his mother. he figured he’d be home right away. but this game went into extra innings and no way was he leaving yankee stadium with extra innings. it was near midnight when he got home. he turned the key as slowly as he could and then the next lock and then the 3rd and final lock and pushed open the heavy metal front door as quietly as a door that thick and heavy could possibly go. shut it behind him and tiptoed into the bathroom. he thought he had made it too. until he feels a blow to his head by his mother who was worried sick waiting for him. did she hit him with a bat? he doesnt know but he never again went to yankee stadium without letting his mother know, “Dona voy pa’ ver los yanquis!" and she would hand over 2 eggs sandwiches for him to take with him.
“what about the banana?”
“of course, 2 egg sandwiches and a few bananas”
legend has it that his mother hit him with a baseball bat that fateful day.
"and what happened to blondie when he got home, papi?"
“Blondie said, his mother took a shoe, probably b/c she mistaken the shoe for the chancla in the dark of the night and threw it at him. macGyver, well, he had to deal with the alarm on his door, but thats why they called him macGyver. he entered without triggering off the alarm. i dont know how he managed that one! and kojak entered and ran thru the kitchen, then past the living room, then slide onto his bed in his room and was he was SAFE!”
mono and his crew were bleacher creatures. for a buck fifty they would go early to the baseball game and watch batting practice. they would meet up by the payphone. and walk to yankee stadium.
“and everyone knew that phone was yours! right, papi!”
“that’s right. we would give out that number as if it was ours and if the phone rang it was probably for one of us --- ”
“you or blondie, or mcGyver or kojak. no one dared touch that phone if it rang, right, papi?!”
“thats right we were the OEN crew. so it was now 1986 and I made the all star team. there I was playing at shea stadium. being on the same field as my newest hero daryl strawberry was amaaaaaazinng! The mets won the world series that year.”
"yeah i know. that was also the year that your high school coach told you. …"
“yeah he said -hey mono, the mets, are really interested in you. they may call you.- it was draft season and i stayed by that phone all day…
“and all night too… right, papi?”
“i never left the house for about 3 days straight. waiting for the call”.
he pauses because he always pauses as if it was the first time he's telling the story. “i never got that call, monito.”
“i never got that call.”
silence. father and son sitting in silence, dreaming of what could have been.
“but papi… maybe -- just maybe- i just thought of it! MAAAAAYBE--- the call did come in…. maybe they called the pay phone! you said you never left the HOUSE and no one would pick up the phone except for the OEN crew. and soooo maybe… just maybe…. they DID call papi!!! they DID!!! THEY PROBABLY HAD THE PAYPHONE # FOR YOU PAPI!”
for a second there, for that split second YES! maybe they just DID call!
“well, monito. like they say in baseball… it aint over till its over…. cuz now i have you! so lets play ball!!!”