Bobby Murcer’s new book, “Yankee for Life: My 40-Year Journey in Pinstripes” was released on May 20th. Related, Bobby was at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center (located on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, New Jersey) this evening signing copies for fans.
I had known for a while that this event was planned. And, I was interested in attending. Yet, when I reached out to some friends to see if they wanted to go, everyone I asked to go with me either had something else to do or they weren’t up for it.
So, today, I found myself twisting on this one. It was not like this was something just around the corner for me – as Little Falls is an 80 minute drive from my house in normal traffic. Yet, I had this strong urge – one that grew as the day went on – that it was important for me to go see Bobby tonight and get a copy of his book. I can’t explain it. It was like my brain was telling my body “Don’t think about it. Just get yourself there tonight.”
Right up until the last minute for me to leave – in order to make it in time – I was questioning myself: “Am I crazy to do this alone?” I decided to use my wife as a sounding board. I told her about my strong feeling – one that I could not really explain why I had – that I felt it was important to go. And, she said to me “Hey, it’s not like you’re going to the movies by yourself on a Saturday night. What’s the big deal? Do you need a date or something in order to go?” Well…that was it. She convinced me. And, off I went to the book signing.
The doors at the Berra Museum were scheduled to open at 6:30 pm. And, right on schedule, that’s about when Bobby showed up. Those who called ahead and pre-ordered the signed book got to go into the signing first – while the rest, like me, got to wait outside.
But, that was O.K. – as it was a beautiful evening. Also, it was Opening Night for the New Jersey Jackals – who play at Yogi Berra Stadium (right next to the museum). As a result, while waiting on line, I got to enjoy all the sounds and smells that you get from a ballpark just before the start of a game.
More importantly, by being on the “not pre-ordered” line, I got to hang out with some other Yankees fans – just like me in the sense that they too came solo. In fact, the three guys behind me in line were all there by themselves. One was about my age. The other was about 10 years older than me. And, the last was about 20 years older than me.
We had fun killing time talking about the Yankees of old, the current team, the old Yankee Stadium, the current and new Yankee Stadiums, Spring Training games, and Yankees trivia – with questions like “Who won the A.L. Rookie of the Year in Mantle’s first season?” and “Who hit the last homerun in the old Yankee Stadium?” Between the four of us, we had 40 to 50 years worth of Yankees stuff to discuss.
We didn’t introduce ourselves to each other. We didn’t exchange names or shake hands. (Hey, we’re guys!) We just started talking Yankees and it rolled from there. All told, we were probably on line together for close to 90 minutes – as our line snaked through the inside of the Berra Museum towards where Bobby was signing. It certainly made the time go faster.
That’s what’s so cool about being a baseball fan. If you meet another fan (or two, or more) in the right setting, you have an instant friend at that moment and you can just talk baseball. You don’t need an ice-breaker. You don’t need to have anything else in common with the person. You don’t need to be close in age. Heck, you don’t even need to know their name. Baseball is the bridge. And, that works just fine.
One of my new friends was also willing to snap this picture of me meeting Bobby:
It all worked out well. I got to meet Bobby Murcer and shake his hand – and tell him what a pleasure it was to meet him. I now have an autographed copy of his book. And, I have a nice picture which captured the moment. On top of all this, I unexpectedly got to hang out with some fellow baseball fans on a pleasant early summer evening, in a ballpark backdrop marinade setting, doing the guy thing, talking Yankees baseball.