March 25, 2020

So when did we all become such pansies?

Dana Mathewson

The estimable Jack Cashill takes us to task -- rightly, I think -- in this sports-related column.

As a kid, I was the victim – and beneficiary – of a malady I remember as the "Asian flu." Without hesitation, I can trace the onset of this illness to early October 1957, when I was 9 years old.

I remember the date specifically because I followed baseball. I grew up as Dodger fan in a metropolitan area with three choices, all of them viable. The New York Giants had won the World Series in 1954, the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955 and the New York Yankees in 1956.

The Yankees had also won in 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953. I might have been a Yankee fan save for the fact that when I came of age, my older brother informed me that the Yankees were already "taken." They were "his" team.

Like my brother, Yankee fans were insufferable. On occasion, they would roam the neighborhood in bands searching out apostates. We Dodger fans were few: little brothers, "colored kids," left-handers and other misfits. We came to dread these mini-pogroms and detest the Yankees and their fans.

I remember the date of my Asian flu malady so precisely because it coincided with the 1957 World Series. At the time, these games were played only in the daytime.

I used the word "beneficiary" above because I, unlike my friends, got to watch the Series from the comfort of the living room couch.

The Asian flu was a happy memory for me. It was especially happy because the underdog Milwaukee Braves came from behind to beat the Yankees four games to three, the final victory a shutout at Yankee Stadium.

I did not know the word "schadenfreude" then, but I certainly knew the concept. I was not too ill to glory in my brother's misery.

Although my teachers were surely suspicious of the timing, there was no doubting my illness. Our family doctor made a house call. My temperature crested at 104 degrees.

I remember the number well because it gave me bragging rights. The Asian flu struck many children in my neighborhood. After the fact, we compared our temperatures the way we would our batting averages.

I was the envy of my fellow baseball fans. Not only did my illness strike during the World Series, but at 104 I also topped their paltry 102s and 103s.

For me this all seemed providential as I was a generally healthy kid. I would not miss another day of school for the next four years and would win the school's perfect attendance award at graduation in a landslide.

It's great, folks, every bit, and you'll find the rest of it here worth the read! I can identify with those days! Go read it! Really!

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 10:16 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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