Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Memory Lane

George Vecsey feels strange about October baseball in St. Pete, and it has nothing to do with the Rays:

The World Series has come to funky old St. Pete.

This is, quite frankly, an astonishing development for any baseball fan who remembers St. Pete as a haven on the flyway north, where elderly snowbirds congregated and young players ran around in rubber suits, sweating off the winter, and then they all migrated north when the weather was tolerable . . .

. . . The first time I saw St. Pete was in March 1961, on spring break with my wife. We drove straight through the night, arriving on a Sunday morning, and, oaf that I am, I sought out Al Lang Field. From my car, I spotted a couple of guys strolling down the sidewalk, each carrying a bat in his hand — Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst, to be precise. As I recall it, they were in uniform, about to take a bus ride to Tampa or Sarasota, but my wife says, no, they were wearing collared sport shirts. Maybe they had just come from church. At any rate, just spotting Stan and Red, I was in young-sportswriter heaven.
Know what's cool? Some kid is going to one day be saying that his first baseball memory was Cole Hamels pitching to B.J. Upton.

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