I was around eight years old when I realized that Mom had a crush on Wayne Garrett. I mean to say: Mom really, really liked “Red” and it made for some uncomfortable moments at the dinner table. Of course, an Irish lass herself, Mom was a sucker for any pale-skinned, freckle-faced kid who had a good eye at the plate. That Garrett volunteered for the Army Reserves sealed the deal. Whatever was going wrong with the country in the late 60′s (sex, drugs, and rock & roll), the clean-cut Garrett appeared to Mom as the antithesis. Later on, her affections shifted to a series of light-hitting, slick-fielding shortstops; she showed more enthusiasm for Jose Oquendo than his play ever warranted. (By the way, he was “Little Jose” to Mom, always and forever.) There was a disturbing period when she grew infatuated with Paul Lo Duca, something I never understood. But these days, Mom is slowing down. She’s 86, still a faithful fan, but her engines have cooled.
Mom had her favorites but I never really thought about it like that. She did like to tell a story about how Frank Thomas asked for her phone number once, but that always seemed more about her pride in herself than about Frank. Dad never got much of a kick out of hearing about it, I do remember that (and in case there was any doubt Thomas did not get the number). And I guess she really liked Keith Hernandez, and most women sure did, but the Keith thing was so universal back then. Everyone loved Keith, he was the guy who could infatuate both Jerry and Elaine.