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Mark Gremse died this week.
He was someone you’d want at a memorial service — a service for someone that everyone knew, someone you happened to love. I keep thinking I should call him about Saturday.
Mark didn’t just speak. He inscribed. Sometimes he engraved, with flourishes. You could count on him for a eulogy that would make you understand why you were crying so hard. He’d put all the words together for you and breathe feeling into them. He’d conjure the grandeur and the meaning of the life that had passed, and then make you remember a private moment that only you could keep alive now. You might imagine what he might say about you at your own funeral, and suddenly see how you, too are a part of history, a part of him, and, yes, a part of baseball.
You would never imagine him dead, silent.
If God were a Giants fan, Cooperstown would be on East 4th Street on the Lower East Side, between Avenues A and B. Closer to B. You can tell He’s not, because Mark would be alive and curating. And the Giants would have won more than that pennant in the 50 years Mark shared with us.
You may have read the beginning of a story about him that I finally posted August 9. I hope he did. The rest has been coming out slowly, forever. But now, without Mark in that apartment, forever feels different. It’s not an ongoing thing anymore. It’s not like Pitchers and Catchers, or Next Year, which always rolls around if you wait long enough. It’s not even like a baseball game, pure in its unclocked timelessness. I counted on Mark to connect next season to last year’s, and all the seasons before that. To take me into history, with him. Is baseball really timeless, after all?
Credit for the title of this post belongs to Marc Marc. One late morning, Marc made me coffee and a proposition. "Let’s go to Gremse’s. For the game. We can make it." I thought he was talking about a bar, and went, willingly. But he took me to the apartment of one of his closest living friends, a friend who then grew deep into me, like that tree on 4th Street grew into to Gremse, the sapling he tried to save after it got hit by a car that was trying to squeeze into a parking spot. He used his belt to tie it together for the moment and convinced someone to watch over it while he ran to the hardware store, for wood glue. Can you imagine, being the passer-by whose aid he enlisted on behalf of that tree? I asked him about that tree a year or two ago. He looked away. "It died."
A memorial gathering for Mark Gremse is planned for Saturday AFTERNOON Nov. 19 (note change), 3-5pm, at Sophie’s Bar, 507 East 5th St., between Avenues A and B. Closer to A.