“Bob Grim, Darrell Johnson, and Buck Showalter (celebrities are people too)”

 

 

I went with friends to a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at Fenway Park in Boston in the summer of 1958, when I was eleven years old.

As usual, my friends and I were sitting in the cheap section of the ballpark, the grandstand. Our seats for this game were right behind the visiting team’s bullpen.

The game was boring or we were restless, something like that. We started pestering Yankee players in the bullpen for autographs. The players would usually hunker down under a sort of ledge where one couldn’t quite see them.

Relief pitcher Bob Grim stood up and approached the water cooler. “Bob, Bob,” we started to shout, “can we have your autograph?” He ignored us. We wouldn’t stop.

Then, he straightened up, and said “shut up kid” to one of us, spitting a mouthful of water in our direction.

We tried again a few minutes later with Darrell Johnson, the Yankees bullpen catcher. “I’m sorry boys,” he said softly. “We’re not allowed to sign autographs during games.” I never forgot the decency of his reply, in contrast to Grim’s.

 

 

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Bob Grim (1930-1996) was a Major League pitcher with five teams from 1954 to 1962.

Darrell Johnson (1928–2004) was a reserve catcher for several teams from 1952 to 1962. After his playing career ended, he was a Major League coach, a minor league manager, and then a Major League manager. As a big league manager, he led three different teams over eight seasons. Johnson was manager of the Boston Red Sox in 1975 when they won the American League pennant and lost to the Cincinnati Reds in a thrilling World Series.

 

 

Bob Grim.jpg

 

 

 

Darrell Johnson - baseball card

 

 

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Addendum: My two sons were raised in New York City and became New York Yankees fans. They were never interested in the New York Mets.

They always wanted to hang around after games (and sometimes beforehand), hoping to get an autograph. At that time, the player’s parking lot was right behind an exit where fans would congregate, waiting for the players to emerge after a game. Most players didn’t even acknowledge the autograph seekers. For me, a parent, it was hard to stand around waiting with my sons. but I was mindful of my behavior when I was their age.

One Sunday afternoon, we waited and waited, getting zero autographs. My boys didn’t want to leave. It seemed that all the players had left, and so had all the fans. After an hour or two of waiting (my patience was exhausted), the last person to leave emerged, the manager himself, Buck Showalter. There was no difficulty approaching him, and no wariness on his part: The parking lot was deserted; there was no scrum.

“Could we please have your autograph, Mr. Showalter” (or did we say Buck?), we asked.

“Certainly,” he said, “Why didn’t you tell someone you were waiting? I could have come out sooner.” He signed for both of my sons.

“Thank your very much, you made their day,” I said.

“You made mine,” he said.

I never forgot Buck Showalter’s kind words.

Celebrities are people too.

 

— Roger W. Smith

    July 2017

 

5 thoughts on ““Bob Grim, Darrell Johnson, and Buck Showalter (celebrities are people too)”

  1. Li Fontrodona

    I have enjoyed much this remembrance of yours. My relationship with baseball is limited to having read (and loved!) lots of Peanuts’ strips, but I have thought of Charlie Brown and Co. with a glow in my heart when reading your post… So you have made my day somehow too :)) A hug!

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