My Dad’s dad was a Torah reader by trade. A B’al Koreh. In near eighty years not once did he cradle a baseball in his hand and my guess is not even once was he in the room with one. Still, on a brisk October 1948 day he caught a streetcar to Euclid Avenue where he stood at the curb as the newly-crowned World Champion Cleveland Indians paraded. Staid, rigid as Andy Hardy’s stoic father, he beamed as the moment called!

I wasn’t there Wednesday – at the party downtown. Bobby and Stuart had
called me to join them … even teased when I said No. Excoriating me, Snyder laughed that in all the years I hadn’t learned my lesson! Hadn’t the two of them, he noted, been the ones that told me not to go to Michigan State? “When you going to learn?” he asked, Stuart laughing in the background. (Ed. Note 1: Answer I didn’t, still trying to figure out what Fenton was going to do downtown.  (Ed. Note 2: And No, I didn’t pass ‘cause the Cavs fired Coach Blatt. Weeks ago I’d reasoned he wasn’t the first Jew thrown to the curb). (Ed. Note 3: And No, the previous note in no way refered to my first marriage).

I worked that day — at least the morning. Yet in the evening, eyeing festivities from the comfort of a bedroom, I thought back to other titles….

Five times in this cowboy’s we’ve won it all. Five times seasons have ended my way. Five inpenetrable memories:

December 27, 1964, Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

Side-by-side with Brother Wieder I sat. From the first row on the 40 we reveled as the Browns rallied from a scoreless half, stunning the 11-point favorite Colts.
From the tickets we’d won to the post-game press conference we’d trespassed, it was the perfect day for a fifteen year old. I picture it still.

January 1, 1969. An apartment off Shaker Square in Cleveland.

Led by super sophomores, OSU had run the table that fall. I’d been in the closed end for the October shut out of #1 Purdue in October (Bill Long at quarterback), and I’d been in the open end for the season ending route of #4 Michigan. And then… on New Year’s Day, Stuart and I watched Woody’s men upend O.J. Simpson and the Trojans from the apartment of the one and only Henry I. Katz.

January 3, 2003. A kitchen in Moreland Hills.

Sleeping in downtown Columbus the night before Michigan and sharing a room
that night with Michael B and Brian Block were preludes. The double-overtime Fiesta Bowl weeks later was watched with Matthew Friedman, just the two of us. Can I tell you I didn’t change my seat the entire second half PLUS? If there was a chance we could pull the major upset I would do nothing to jinx it!

January 12, 2015. Las Vegas, Nevada.

Elbow to elbow we sat (father and son), front row, eyes angled up. He’d flown from New York; I’d flown from Cleveland; we sat there together. Until… until: as the inaugural NCAA College Football Playoff Championship ended, and as scarlet and gray confetti filled the sports book screen the heretofore composed Michael erupted from his seat. “Yeah!” he shouted as players flocked the field. “Yeah!”

June 19, 2016. Las Vegas, Nevada.

With a woman I sat in a restaurant in “Paris”. A wife! MY WIFE!!! (The world had indeed changed in six-some decades).

There we dined with her friend from olden days — a guy I’d yet to meet by the afternoon of The Drive — and had yet to hear of the night of The Fumble — who wasn’t on my radar as Mesa faltered in that ninth ….

That half century collapsed in what then seemed but an instant! My daughter called at halftime. I peaked up here and there at the game on the monitor. We gobbled burgers.

Then Kyrie hit the shot!

— I cried. I really did, (as did many).
— I filmed all the noise. I really did, (as did others).

This flag, it occurred, wasn’t just for the team or the sport. This flag was for the town – my town — CLEVELAND!

The place I never left.

It occurred to me midst tears of joy that Modell was still scum and the Ravens were still thugs, and Yes, I still didn’t give a damn about the whole state of Michigan —- but that what really mattered was that my heart was #ALLIN Cleveland!

They’re talking Tribe in my hometown this week, (the parade over). Three more months (and a bit) ‘til The Series. But it feels like the year, yes it does. “Next year” might be this year. We’ll see.   Maybe I’ll call Bob and Stuart Monday (for a ride downtown).

East Lansing seems so far away.

3 Responses to “FIVE FLAGS”

  1. Stuart Fenton says:

    I’m glad Bob suggested we go; he is good at getting me to move outside my comfort zone. However, you were missed. It was one of those days you will never forget. Next time no excuses for you.

    Now, can you imagine a Cubs/Indians series? Browns in the Super Bowl?

  2. bob says:

    Now that the curse is lifted maybe we should forget about your decision to go to MSU.

  3. Up From Dysfunction says:

    Thank you both for your comments.

    And thank you Bob, for your forgiveness.

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