I am not a huge fan of sports but baseball makes my heart flutter. I do not really watch it or listen to it much now but it reminds me of my grandpa, Ralph Carrington, who died some years ago. Recently, I found out that he was a New York City taxi cab driver and my grandmother was recruited by Saks Fifth Avenue to make wedding dresses. She could make them without a pattern and was highly recruited. My mother was born in Curacao, which is in the Dutch West Indies and made her way to America in the second grade.
This week my mother is going to see her best friend. She was the one who helped my mother navigate America, Harlem and English. She spoke Dutch and some English. I could not even imagine how she was bullied even with 6 other siblings, it was difficult. She made it through.
It always seems like when you need questions answered about your family it is too late. I loved my grandpa and was devastated when he passed away. He loved to garden and had the most amazing blue hydrangeas and honeysuckle plants when they had a house in Queens, New York. He taught me how to nip the honeysuckle flowers and taste the small drop of sweetness on the pistol of the flowers. I wish I could show him my hydrangeas. This year they were almost as big as basketballs this year. I miss his heavy Caribbean accent and loved to rub his bald head. He had a hearty laugh and the most contagious smile. Most of all I miss him and his antics while listening to baseball.
It is strange the way one thing makes memories come flooding back. For me it was the retirement of Derek Jeter from the New York Yankees. As a teenager, my friend and I would travel to the Bronx on towel days and watch the games. She knew someone on the team and we always got great seats. Derek Jeter was not playing then but the Yankees uniform always stayed dear to me. Jeter joined the Yankees in 1992 and has been with them ever since. That does not happen that often any longer. My grandfather was a New York Mets fan but he would listen to anything baseball.
As a little girl, I remembered him turning on the radio and commanding complete silence. He would yell at the radio and applaud as if he were at the games himself. I am sure that longtime Detroit Tigers fans understand what I am writing about. Baseball games on the radio became something I that I knew I could share with my grandfather. He later would watch them on television but it was not the same.
Derek Jeter recently ended his career on a great note. He has shown longevity and integrity in the game and has never been involved with any of the typical drama regarding any type of drugs that enhanced performance. He may have had a spotlight on him occasionally because of who he dated but that is a given when you are a celebrity.
While in enemy territory playing against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, he hit an RBI single doing what he has done so well during the last game of his Major League career. Jeter received a standing ovation in Boston! That is what I call leaving while you are on top.
Jeter was born on June 26, 1974 and has had an illustrious career. I am personally proud of him because he was never caught in any substance abuse drama.
He now has a career as an author and has a partnership with Simon & Schuster to form Jeter Publishing. I find that impressive.
In a recent children's book review by Meghan Cox Gurdon from The Wall Street Journal of Jeter's book "The Contract", she stated that even though the book was enjoyable she found it odd that as an 8-year-old young Jeter would have sign a contract to "avoid alcohol or drugs". My response to Gurdon is that his father works in the substance abuse field. You learn a lot from your parents and if every year they made him sign a contract with that included avoiding drugs and alcohol, I would think that would be normal. Jeter was also 8-years-old in 1982. I am not sure if she ever heard of cocaine and the crack cocaine trade. It was an epidemic. Children were becoming homeless while watching their parents become hooked on drugs. Some drug dealers used children to help with drug transactions. Where I am from it was common knowledge that if a child was caught selling drugs or acting as a mule, they got minimal juvenile time compared to the type of prison time that an adult would get. He also created Turn 2 Foundation, which is a charity that helps children and teenagers avoid alcohol and drug addiction. Very believable but that is just me. I remember being 6-years-old and being told "never to touch a gun". My father was a police officer.
Then she proceeds to say that that as a third graders it is illogical to think Jeter and his friends would put in hours prepping for math finals. Well, maybe the word "final" may be over stretching but his mother was an accountant. I could see that happening. I make my children spend a lot of time reading. I have another friend, Tearri Rivers, who spends a lot of time with her children studying an prepping for science. I have never seen anything like what Tearri prepares for her children and they very advanced.
Overall the review was good but I just had to add the two issues that she brought up may be explained. I love reading the Wall Street Journal, I find the most interesting things. I actually love reading any newspaper I can get my hands on. It is easy reading and I always learn something. Pick up a book or a newspaper soon, I am sure you will find something that will peak your interest. The words used in books are more colorful and exciting though. I love that.
You may find yourself in a conversation about something that you read or the words may bring memories back for you.
P.S. Derek Jeter was recently featured in the PBS show “Finding Your Roots”. It is readily available to view on the internet and was very interesting to watch. Tell me what you think.
This column was printed in the November 2, 2014 - November 15, 2014.