Tuesday, January 20, 2015


My greatest fan is my mother.  She, by nature, is the consummate advocate with a robust intense sense of right and wrong.  Cross her, she becomes one's fierce adversary.  Generous and kindhearted to a fault, she stands by her family, children and friends tenaciously.

There was one time that my mother's advocacy got me benched!  I was in high school roaming the outfield in Center one day, having pretty good fortune at the plate with two singles.  Toward the end of the 6th inning my coach pulled me aside and told me straight up that I would be sitting out the next game!  What he said did not register immediately because I was having such a good day! I made no mistakes, my contribution was solid, a punishment of sitting out a game seemed so unwarranted!  As the meaning of his words sank in,
I blurted, "but why Coach?! What did I do?!"
He replied, "Oh it's not you! Its your mother!"
I continued to probe, "My mother? What does she have to do with it?"
The coach explained, "She called me a '%$#@@%!!&' from the stands."
I defended my mother, "Coach, that's impossible! My mother never says that! She does not use such language! It can't be true!"
The coach remained adamant, "Sorry, you're going to sit out next game because I know what I heard!"
I pleaded, "Coach Please! Perhaps Coach was mistaken! Please let me start tomorrow!"
"Nope!," he said, "go talk to your mother tonight if you want to continue to play...Ask her what she said about me. I do not have to tolerate insults.  You want to play, you'll talk to your mother."

Wow! I was devastated! Taking away something I love to do (play baseball) hurt badly.  I couldn't believe my small minded thin skinned coach.  What did my mother have to do with my valuable contribution to the team? A parent from the stands yelling some epithet made him angry?  Could this be pay back for missing a game because of Passover?  He did not punish me for that when I missed.   I had to talk to my mother, if I wanted to continue playing ball.  I looked over to the stands behind home plate where my mother was beaming with pride, gregariously chattering that her son and his team were doing so well that day.

Although we won that day, I knew the evening would not end in joyous celebration.  When I returned from the game, my mother was already at home preparing dinner. As I walked into the house, she greeted me with a big congratulations on a great game! (My mother is a great baseball fan, growing up in Brooklyn with 'dem Bums' the Dodgers!)  She knew the details of the game with all its subtleties.  My mother, however, was never subtle, so I had to begin my interrogation immediately, "Ma, did you call the coach, a "%$#@@%!!&" from the stands today?"
"What!" she exclaimed, "You know I never use such language!, What are you talking about? Why are you asking me such a question?!"
"Well," I began slowly, "My coach claimed to have heard you from the stands scream that word directed at him."
"I did not use such a word!"my mother declared.
I continued, "Did you say anything? Did you call him anything at all?"
"I called him a "%$#', but not a '%$#@@%!!&'" my mother admitted.
I started to whine, "Aah ma, why did you have to say anything, don't you understand that now I am benched for the next game!"
"What!! He can't do that! Not to my son!" she proclaimed.  "I will have him fired!" [This was no idle threat because my mother did lead a successful campaign that resulted in my 6th grade math teacher being fired for incompetency!]
"Please, Ma, your not going to do anything, don't you understand he has the power to do whatever he wants with the team.  It's his team!"
"Look, Ma, if you want me to continue to play, you can't come to my games anymore.  I don't trust the coach to do the right thing.  It's true I should not be benched but he was very insulted by whatever you said."
"I did not use such fowl language, you know that!"
"Please, don't come to the games."
"The last thing I want is for you is not to play...That %$#!... I won't show up again, for you, NOT for him!"

Sure enough, I sat out that next game and my mother did not show up. The following game was away, at Mountain View, a game that I was used as a pitcher.  With my first strikeout, I heard my mother from the stands scream something like "Great Job!"  I spied the home plate stands and there she was, sitting in disguise, in sunglasses and a London Fog trench coat on a sunny warm California blue sky day!

I questioned my mother that night why she showed up at the game, but she denied that she was there. I contemplated an argument, "What? you think I can't recognized my own mother?", but I dropped the subject because I realized how important being my advocate and fan was to her.  She continued to come to every game and cheer for me and my team.  And I am happy she did and indeed, the coach never benched me again.