Back in the mid-1950s, my aunt took me to a baseball game at Ebbet’s Field in Brooklyn.

I was 5, maybe 6, years old. She wasn’t a real “aunt,” she was my mom’s best friend in high school. “Aunt Jean and Uncle Jerry,” however, loom large in my childhood memories. They stopped at the White Castle hamburger stand in Elizabeth, N.J., to buy a sack of hamburgers. (White Castle’s slogan was, indeed, “buy ’em by the sack.”) They assigned me to hold that warm hamburger bag during the game. It kept me from freezing to death.

The Dodgers were playing the Cardinals. Uncle Jerry was from St. Louis, and he called them the Cards. I recall an unforgettable moment like it was yesterday:

I’d nodded off, but was awakened by a rustle from the crowd and my aunt clutching my shoulder. “Look!” she said. A batter was planting his spikes, tapping his bat to measure his stance and took a few practice swings. “I want you to be able some day to say that you saw that man play baseball,” she said.

I don’t recall whether Stan Musial walked, struck out or hit a grand slam. “The Man” died recently at 92 in New Jersey, I can say I saw him play baseball. Jackie Robinson played that night, too.

To those who the Baseball Hall of Fame passed on — no comment. To that disgraceful cyclist’s pathetic confession to Oprah or that Notre Dame player’s asinine “girlfriend” hoax — again, no comment. Not a single word.

I’m just grateful that I had a special aunt and uncle who loved me enough to take me to see Stan Musial and Jackie Robinson play baseball.

Buddy Doyle


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