Hoopla over brothers competing on Super Sunday has caused reflection on other legendary siblings that have threaded the fabric of American sports. Not surprisingly, many of the great tandems cut their teeth on the sandlots of South Euclid, Ohio.

The sixties was perhaps the last innocent decade. Long before video games took the bats out of adolescent hands, long before the clowns in my hometown cemented over the fields of dreams, life consisted of baseball, football and kinship.

First organized ball came the summer after fifth grade as Fenton and I broke into the 9-10 minors with Hollywood.  Later, as H then Ricky came of age, they too would wear plain white tees like their brothers. Not only that, but when the White Sox drafted me another dye would be cast as a year or so later they grabbed H. And catch this: ‘though Stuey made the majors with the Indians, he finished out with the Sox. Contemporaneous to the Sox later picking Little Ricky, a backroom deal was cut bringing Stuart too to the Pale Hose. (Want to know how sib-sensitive the Sox were? Over time their rosters included not only the Capretta and Myslenski boys that I teamed with, but the Brothers Mandel as well). It was like playing on Noah’s Ark.

South Euclid was, of course, home to the Boobus Bowl. Traditionally played on Thanksgiving, this no clock/no-equipment tackle game was in many ways a family affair. Not only did in one decade alone no less than four clans send two or more representatives to the annual event, but each tandem, in its own way, made a contribution to the legacy of the clash.

There were the Mandels, of course—always together. Bruce called the signals; Doug generally blocked. The former was dubbed “Boo”, the latter “Doo”, and conventional wisdom was that kid brother Frank was so unnerved at the prospect of being “Foo” that he opted, growing up, to go by his middle name, Howard.

And the Baskins, Dick and Tommy—the only bros never to team together. Go figure. Dick was older, more compact, and played quarterback. He could run a bit, throw when necessary, and like Rex Kern, was the perfect leader for a grind-it-out team: Conversely, brother Tom—all speed— played well in Mandel’s west coast offense. (Note: Mandel lost more than he won. Remember: in those days the west coast was at the Mississippi River).

Ah, and the Fruit Punch. Each year but one, Pear Freedman played opposite body double Plum. We had Steve, and in games where everyone was an eligible receiver, our huddles were predictable.

Like it was yesterday:

First, Pear would stand with his back to the line of scrimmage, hands up like he was on TV. It would be Baskin, Ross, Herzog, two Bogarts, and Steve.

Dick would speak: “I’ll run right. B, you and Alan lead me”…and four guys would nod. “ I can beat my guy”, Pear would say.

…or it would be…

“B, you take it. Give us time to get in front of you”…and we’d nod. “Yeah,” Steve would urge, “But I can beat Gill. He’s ignoring me.” “We’ve already got a play,” Alan would glare, with that look of frustration reserved solely for amos. (We loved Steve, we did—but it wasn’t an accident that Plum played against him).

….which reminds me of a story (not really related to the brothers theme)….

So unnerved were most of us by Pear’s constant nagging for the ball that one day—and it wasn’t a bowl game—we had a special signal…a special play. Plum wasn’t there, but I recall that somehow we’d reached a silent consensus that we didn’t want to play anymore. At a tacitly agreed time, Herzog intentionally threw an interception right at Pear and then….all of us…both squads, gang-tackled him. On that play—on that one play—we were all brothers.

Which brings me to the last siblings worth mentioning: the Bogart Boys. One hit and threw left—the other right. One could run—the other couldn’t. And one did his homework after school and then played ball—but not the other. They were as different on the diamond, as night and day. But they were teammates, always… on and off the court—

And that made for super ball!

One Response to “THE RIGHT BROTHERS”

  1. Mr. Goode says:

    Bruce: I just had a conversation with both of your parents. Like me, they are amazed that you used the phrase “on and of the court” when, given the context of your blog “on and off the field” would have been much more appropriate.

    As you’ve been told many times before, please take the time to review your work before submitting it.

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