Friday, May 30, 2014

A time to remember lost Yankee fans

If you Google "yankee fan" and "death," you'll scroll across an endless list of recent obituaries, including one for Ada Robinson of Southern Shores, N.C. She died at 92, a church-goer, a devoted mom, grandmother and great-grandmother, who loved the ocean and to sing, and who shall "be remembered by all who knew her as the World's Greatest Yankee fan."

Chew on that one for a moment. Ada Robinson lived 92 years, raised a family, did many things, and in the 300 words that are supposed to define her life, it needed to be noted that she rooted for a certain baseball team some 500 miles away. I never met her, but I know her. She was just like my own grandmother, who died in a nursing home, still grumbling over why the team could have traded Moose Skowron.

On any day, open an obit page across America, and you'll find people - good, family-loving people - eulogized as fans of the Yankees - a team that, for reasons only God and Yogi Berra understand, long ago captured their hearts.

It's tempting to shake our heads. It's tempting to be sad and cynical that someone would be remembered merely for being a fan. Seriously. How low a bar should we place on our memories? Yet I don't feel that way. In fact, as they toss dirt onto my coffin, or flick my ashes Big Lebowski-style into the cold breeze, I hope someone is checking the box scores, wondering if my ghost has induced a bad hop single on behalf of the Yankees. My obit will probably have the Yankees in the headline. What a loser, someone will think. Oh well... we make our beds, including our final one.

Which brings me to the current Yankees. Listen: I cannot imagine what it's like to play major league baseball in an era of 24/7 sports networks, when every injury demands an MRI, and every statement is parsed in the press like a Supreme Court ruling. But in this time of the season, when we are supposed to remember people long gone, I hope the players and the brain trust now and then Google "yankee fan" and "death," to take note of their sacred responsibility to all those people out there who follow every game, every precious moment, as they enter their own final innings.

I think the Yankees sometimes forget those people. The organization lapses into a state of a greed and arrogance, which views fans for cash flow instead of passion. There are economic forces that would dismiss the Ada Robinsons as insignificant, as holding no value to advertisers. There are elements within the corporation of baseball that only care about the bottom line.

When the Yankees - or Major League Baseball - prices out fans via the rising cost of seats, or squeezes their supporters by putting huge prices on radio and TV broadcasts, they are not thinking about people like Ada Robinson. One day, that base will be gone, and I'm not sure it will be replaced. The Yankees need to start figuring out how to be more accessible to fans - not how to squeeze more money out of them.

Here's to the world's greatest Yankee fan.

Rest in Peace, Ms. Robinson. If you can, maybe work us a bad hop single when Tanaka pitches. Say hello to my grandmother. See you on the other side, where the games are free.


KD said...

Thank you.

ceeja said...

The team will outlast the Steinbrenners. I've been saying that since 1973.

Local Bargain Jerk said...

Gran Sr. El Duque:

Yours was one of the lovelier posts I've read in quite a while.

My hope is that it finds its way to Ms. Robinson's family so that they might treasure it as well.

Good goin', my friend.

Suzyn's Bitch said...

Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, Joltin' Joe has left and gone away...

Beautiful sentiment, well stated!

bennyboy said...

The games are never free. George is there now, and he's selling tickets.

John M said...

A great one, Duque. Just great.