PLAINS TWP. — Thursday was the scheduled Opening Day for Major League Baseball, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced that to be postponed indefinitely.
Add this to the already postponed/canceled March Madness, Masters golf tournament, NBA and NHL seasons and just about everything else, and we have a self-isolating, social distancing society sitting at home devouring such programming as past NCAA tournament games, NFL games and other sporting events.
And even though we know the outcomes of these, we still watch. Like a good friend of mine, a fellow Yankee fan, who watches the live version of every game and if the Yanks lose, he watches the taped replay hoping the outcome will somehow be different.
During this pandemic, I have thought of my parents a lot and how they would have handled this situation. I can tell you for sure, our house would be much more fun than mine is today. Yes, I miss my cat, Lily. She would be great company during these times, for sure.
But my mom and dad would find ways to pass the time and make the most of what is a very difficult time for all.
My dad was a real baseball fan. He co-founded the Plymouth Little League with his pal Joseph “Shep: Chepulis. These guys, along with other volunteers like Carl Clemm, Tony “Stush” Gayson, Dave “Tweet” Bird, Dick Williams, Jim Murphy, Carl Johnson, Joe Shutlock and many, many more made playing baseball a whole lotta fun for us kids.
Every town had the same scene led by outstanding volunteers who cared about their community. They all gave unselfishly of their time and baseball knowledge — never expecting any of us to get to the big leagues, rather to help mold us into decent human beings.
And when it came to those big leagues, my dad loved the Yankees. He and my mom and I would travel to Yankee Stadium often. And we also went to Philadelphia to Connie Mack Stadium to watch the Phils against some of the great teams and players of the 1960s.
I’ve told this story before, but I think it is worth repeating at this pandemic time. My mom loved Joe Pepitone. While in New York for a weekend series in the 60s, mom and I went into the cafeteria at the Yankee Motor Lodge, where many Yankee players stayed during the season. We met many players and broadcasters there and got to know them.
One morning, mom and I were having breakfast at a table when Pepitone walked in and sat at the counter. I went over to him — I was maybe 11 or 12 at the time — and told him my mom loved him and could he say hello. Pepitone got up, walked over to our table and sat down. He gave my mom a hug and a kiss on the cheek and he thanked us for our support of the Yankees.
My mom never forgot that day. When Pepitone was at PNC Field a few years ago for a Yankees Legends game, I got to sit with him and I told him that story. Pepitone was sincerely happy to hear the story. He smiled and shook my hand and he expressed sorry that my mom had died so young.
Baseball has always meant a lot to my family. My dad taught me the importance of appreciating the finer points of the game.
When this pandemic is over, I intend to watch as much baseball as I can, not to just root for my team, but to hope there are still players like Joe Pepitone playing the game we all love.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.