How scoring baseball games saved my life.
The math spins in my head.
A compass home.
When I was a kid, my family moved to London.
I’d spent my whole life in the Bronx. Yankee Stadium was pretty close. Trading baseball cards on the stoop. Bubblegum heroes.
Moving to London, those Bronx days became a memory. Except for one connection I was determined to keep.
We had a paper delivered to our London home every day. The International Herald-Tribune. Printed on thin airmail friendly paper. Published in Paris. Our American newspaper in Europe.
We all read it every morning. It didn’t matter if you were an American in Berlin, Rome, or Amsterdam. The paper was the one thing that stitched us all together.
The front page was news, politics. There were stories of American culture. There were obituaries. What my father called the Irish Sports page.
And in the back was sports.
Most important to me were the baseball scores. Every game was set in 8 pt type. I leaned over the page and studied the numbers.
Win-Lose. The home run leaders. Pitchers ERA. Game summaries. The standings.
There was no baseball on the radio or on TV. No baseball in the local papers. There was only the Herald-Tribune and these tiny boxes of numbers.
But that was enough to fill my head with games and glory.
I went to college in Boston. Lived in the shadows of Fenway Park, the home of the Red Sox.
I could sit in my room and hear the cheers out the window. Different cheers. Single, double, home run. You could keep score by the cheers.
I went to the park early. Practiced ear training in the bleachers. Scored games. Reduced every play to numbers. Watched the numbers like a shaman interpreting bones.
I believed I could see the turns of the game coming. The big hits predicted.
When I moved back to New York, I rode the D train out to the Bronx. I got to Yankee Stadium early. I scored every game in a score book.