Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday's Musings on Sports - Derek, Tommy and R' Moshe Feinstein

Over the weekend I read a piece on Yahoo's excellent baseball blog (Big League Stew) which reiterated a story that ran in the New York Times about the lengths that adults will go through to get Derek Jeter's autograph. (To see the blog post on Big League Stew, please click here).

The article detailed how grown men would get in line at 3 AM for a chance to possibly score the Yankee captain's autograph. If Jeter decided that this would be day that he would sign autographs, those waiting for the "magical moment" were told by a Yankee underling named John Johnson to "keep in line" and not to engage in any conversation with Jeter as  "he doesn’t want to hear about your personal life, so don’t ask him about his!”

The piece also had a humanizing side of the Yankees involving Tyler Austin, a prospect who is trying to make the team. Austin related that when he was eight years old, he attended a Chatanooga Lookouts (AA) game after which some players refused to sign autograps. Although he was only in grade school at the time, his mother told him "One day you’re going to be there, and I swear if I ever see you walk by anybody and not sign a thing for them, I will come and personally slap you right across the face."

The Jeter/Austin article reminded me of a story from one of Tommy Lasorda's books about his interaction with Buster Maynard. When Lasorda was in grade school, he volunteered as a crossing guard because he heard that the nuns would take them to a baseball game as a reward at the end of the year. When the day finally arrived, Lasorda visited Shibe Park for his first major league game. He had prepared an autograph book and approached the major leaguers, but was brushed off by a member of the other team who Lasorda did not recognize. Lasorda checked the scorecard and learned that the players name was Buster Maynard.

Years later, Lasorda was a minor league pitcher for the Dodgers and was pitching in a game in the South Atlantic League. When the announcer gave word that Buster Maynard would be the next batter, Lasorda knew what he would do. Lasorda threw the first pitch at Maynard's head. Then he threw the next pitch at Maynard's head. After he threw the third pitch at Maynard, Maynard charged the mound. 

After the game was over, Maynard sought Lasorda out in the locker room. Maynard said to him - I never faced you in a game before, so why did you throw at me. Lasorda told him the story of how he went to Shibe Park as a kid and Maynard brushed him off. Maynard left the locker room, shaking his head.

In contrast to Maynard and Jeter's actions, I would like to briefly reiterate a story that R' Frand told a few weeks ago about R' Moshe Feinstein, zt'l. One summer, R' Moshe and his family went to a bungalow colony for a planned vacation. After a few days, R' Moshe told his family that they needed to go home. He did not tell them why they were going home and they did not ask why. Instead, they called R' Yaakov Kaminetsky zt'l and asked why R' Moshe had moved his family back to the city. R' Yaakov called R' Moshe and learned that an almanah (widow) was living next door to their bungalow. The widow's daughter would come and sing for her and this created a kol isha problem for R' Moshe. Rather than tell the woman of the problem created by the singing, R' Moshe moved his family back from the country to the Lower East Side, so that the woman would not feel uncomfortable.

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