He blurted it, like a boy opening his best birthday present, in front of everyone. (He was about to turn 48, and has just done so.)
"This is going in my bedroom. Right over the bed."
Instinctively, immediately, he wanted to sleep under a photograph with breadth that would stretch panoramically across the bed, as the sky that night had swagged Tiger Stadium and hovered, encouragingly, over our seats on the Front Porch. These were terrific seats, which he had somehow sniffed out as we walked toward Michigan and Trumbull to sold-out Tiger Stadium, where he had himself once suited-up, and where after this night the still-inconceivable no one would.
We almost never got there. An apparently convincing phone call to him at his Mother’s, made from Lenox Hill Hospital, where my only friend-with-child had just given birth, worked. On a hospital payphone, I learned that he was too tired, had too much to do, that the game didn’t matter so late in the season, etc. Then, he changed his mind. I should ask him if he remembers exactly why, because this is not a common occurrence. We agreed to meet in an outdoor smoking area on the boarding level, if I remember right. Seven serious-sounding words from one late-arriver to an even-later-arriver still echo: "Now, Sharon, I do not miss airplanes." arriving from different states, we made the plane.
What a gift to me was his reaction — regardless of whether his girlfriend asks him to put the photograph somewhere else. These were not feelings I had even hoped to touch in him or myself. In fact, I am glad for my innocence, as I am not sure I could have brought myself to give him this photograph knowing how stirred he and I would be.
I will not try to break someone up, yet also not be will not be dishonest about my own feelings. Now, what good is this? Well, something good happened on his birthday, whatever it was. I do not require definitions and stats for every play every day.
That is another episode of Marc and me, and as usual, that’s baseball.
Thanks, Gremse, as always. We know you’re watching.
I don’t agree with everything that Bob Kennedy — Sports Editor of the Stamford Advocate — prescribes for the Yankees in the article excerpted below, but I am glad that someone besides Yankee radio announcer John Sterling has taken the time to fault those who whine that the Yankees win because they have so much money. For every dollar he spends over the limit, George Steinbrenner pays a luxury tax that goes into the pockets of the neediest teams’ owners. Instead of pouring the money into their teams, thus creating a paying, t-shirt-hungry public, these owners "disappear" their funds, only to complain about the Yankees’ advantage without accounting for what they have done with their team’s budget. Thank you, Mr. Kennedy, for suggesting that teams follow a winning business model, while simultaneously cautioning, of course, that money does not buy championships, no matter how much is spent. The Yankees know that. The other owners and the press should remember. Let’s wait ’til next year and see if they do.
EXCERPTED FROM The Stamford Advocate – Taking a swing at fixing the Yankees by Sports Editor Bob Kennedy:
…Yankee haters [are] sure the team wins because it outspends every other franchise. Gary Sheffield may have said it best when he signed with the Yankees: "What I like about Mr. Steinbrenner is he spends his money." Think about it. How much does it cost to go to a Yankees game? Figure in tickets, hot dogs, beer, parking, programs, more beer, peanuts and souvenirs. Then multiply that times four million-plus fans that showed up at Yankee Stadium this season. Then take into account the YES network, including income from broadcasting in Japan. And radio rights. And all the commercials from "The official water of the Yankees broadcast booth" to the Lojack "Caught Stealing" ads. My guess is that comes to a lot of money. Suppose George put that money in his pocket. I think there just might be a public outcry. So, George puts the money into his team. And, he pays the luxury tax. And, the Yankees fill opposing teams’ stadiums when they’re on the road. I don’t have a problem with George spending his money. If other teams spent money maybe they would make money. Then again, spending big bucks doesn’t guarantee winning. Just look at the New York Knicks.
Links to the YES Network’s Jim Kaat Tributes:
Calling It a Career, and more
- When the YES Network booth crowds up with Kay, Kenny, and Oh-Mercer, and you can’t figure out how you could possibly be missing anyone’s voice, it will be Jim "Kitty" Kaat’s that you are straining for. His sharp, well-timed explanations of pitching strategy and execution has reminded us that baseball is a skill and an art to be appreciated, and that we "pay" all these people because they have specialties the others do not know about.
Time to make it formal. Turn the TV volume off. Turn on John and Suzyn on WCBS AM. The timing will be a little off, but we will know the score and get some analysis at least. Suzyn lacks the insight of a player and could use a mentor like Mr. Kaat. Meantime, she out-schools the bunch in the big Yes broadcast box in the sky.
- We’ll miss you, Kitty. Meow, baby, as Kojak would say. Good luck, and please do not be a stranger. Stop by the WCBS booth if you get a chance.
It is Next Year! The damp, hopeful air of spring training 2006 has survived to christen the lungs of all of us whose internal clocks chime cuck-oo around this time each year.
The last time I took a breath as deep and wondering as this, the light mist left from fireworks was mingling with the earliest morning soot of south Chicago, invigorating the air with a confounding sense of the possible. Something entirely as spectacular was happening in a small bar in New York City, where two long-separate lovers were conjoined.
For the first time since October 26, 2005, it feels safe let out the deep breath I took that night.
If you’d like to share a memory about MARK GREMSE, please leave a comment below. MLB.com will ask you to make a user ID (fast & easy), & will bring you right back to this page.
The windows of Sophie’s were covered with photographs. It was almost impossible to push open the door. One after another, friends of Mark Gremse stepped up onto the window seat and spoke their minds and hearts.
So many people from so many different parts of Mark’s life came — people who might have heard of each other, but just as likely had not. There were the people from Sophie’s, of course. And from the building on East 4th Street. Monie, who flew in from Germany. The East River Ratz. A huge bunch from the Law Office came — I’d like to dedicate a special thanks to them — you "guys" really came through, posting on this site, talking about him in person, wow, no wonder he made it to work. And so many others, who have their own unique connection to this Giant of a Man. And I’ll bet that for everyone who was able to make it, there were 10 more who would have come if they could. Let’s not leave out all those of you who have written your memories on this page, and those of you who are about to.
Freddy, you really pulled things together and made Mark’s memorial gathering possible. Thank you so much.
I wish I could be more eloquent. I just want to post this in time for some of you to see it and realize how grateful I am to all of you. Meeting you and reading your feelings for Mark made me feel deceptively warm — almost, almost, as if Mark were still here.
Please stay in touch. I am not too good with email, but I will respond. Keep posting here, too.
With love and appreciation,
Mark’s All-time Favorite Dodger Fan
The memorial gathering for Mark Gremse has been postponed to the AFTERNOON of Nov. 19, 3-5pm, so that travellers can attend. Sophie’s Bar, 507 E. 5th St., NYC, between Avenues A and B.
Check back for updates.
If you would like to share a memory about Mark on this page, please leave a comment below by clicking HERE, or just scroll down.
If you’d like to share a memory about MARK GREMSE, please leave a comment below.
MLB.com will ask you to make a user ID (fast & easy), & will bring you right back to this page.
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.
That’s what Mark Gremse says at the end of a great story. If you tell one yourself, he’ll append it to yours, too — if it’s about baseball, that is, or if it could be. That’s the kind of generous he is. Right now, the most important thing you need to know about Gremse is that he is a lifetime New York Giants fan. A Polo Grounds Giants fan. Here’s a little more about him…
I’m his all-time favorite Dodger fan.
If you don’t pick up any nuance there, you probably don’t know Gremse (He’s called by his first name, Mark, outside Sophie’s, where the chances someone’s name is Mark, Joe, or Dave run about 4 to 1). You’ve already figured out that he has no business having a favorite Dodger fan, especially one born in LA after 1958. Maybe you think you hear some sarcasm — favorite, yeah, sure, whatever.
But I knew what I was hearing the first time Mark called me that. It was Love, with Irony — those twin Furies who step-in for the Muses in matters of the art and history of baseball. Mark is a historian, and his memory is iconographic. It’s not that he worships idols, though visitors to his apartment on East 4th Street would be forgiven for thinking so. (Think Cooperstown as treehouse fort.) It’s that he operates on a level of orthodoxy that most of us will never achieve, with a superior spiritual understanding approaching a that of a Zen Master. He can see the higher truth in apparent contradiction. That’s why he was open to the possibility that something good can come out of an act that on the surface is so grotesquely wrong: the befriending a girl with eyes of Dodger Blue. Gremse can always see the spin on the ball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. There’s a spin on this one — and a story goes with it….
…more to come