TV Stevie has been invited to an introducing-the-new-food event at the stadium. I am incredibly jealous. Okay, he's a client, but I'm a blogger. That should count for something.
But my envy is not the subject of today's blog.
In her book Safe at Home, author Alyssa Milano writes, "Baseball is all about stories."
Jean Hastings Ardell wrote in her book, Breaking Into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime, "As [Vanalyne Green] studied the game, she came to believe that essential aspects of baseball culture came out of the feminine tradition of oral history, storytelling, and gossip."
Stories. Not just about the game or the players, but because there is time and space in baseball, there are also opportunities to learn the stories of the people around you. When you're a season ticket holder, sitting with other season ticket holders, you form a community. Alyssa Milano writes: "A big part of what allows me to be in the moment is the community that surrounds the game . . . This is a big part of why I am a season ticket holder. I go to games not just for the baseball, but for the people, and for the feeling of community I get while there. My neighborhood is Dodger Stadium. My neighbors are the fans that sit in my section."
For us in Section 207, it's not just the fans, but also the interns, ushers, vendors, and other staffers. Like Danny, the usher who usually works our section. Over the years, Danny has told us about his children, his grandchildren, and other general stuff, but one hot July early evening, Danny told me the rest of his story.
|Dante "Danny" looking over the field|
His real name is Dante. His speech contains the faintest trace of an accent, hinting that English might not be his native tongue. I'm right. Danny was born in Italy. At age eight, he wanted to be a super star soccer player. Scouts wanted to sign him, but his mother said no. He didn't go to school in Italy. Eventually he came to the US, where he met his father for the first time. He says he was a skeleton from being sea sick and that his father was cooking hotdogs, which Danny had never had before.
Danny's uncle asked him if he liked baseball. All Danny knew was soccer. His uncle asked, "Haven't you ever heard of Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig?" Danny said no. So his uncle took him to Yankee Stadium. In 1951, they traveled to Washington, DC to see Joe DiMaggio and the Yankees play there, and that's where Danny was fortunate enough to get DiMaggio's autograph, but as he stood there with the piece of paper in his hand, some kid ran by and snatched it from him. Even now, one can hear the regret in his voice. Danny's father and uncle loved baseball and taught Danny to love it too, which is why he ushers at Alliance Bank Stadium.
|Dante "Danny" ready to clean seats|
Danny has lots of other stories -- about being drafted and spending 18 months in Munich, with trips to Italy to visit his family, about meeting his wife there -- she was Miss Rome -- and insisting that he meet her parents; about being shipwrecked in the English Channel; how his mother was afraid of water, but still came to this country by boat and learned speak English in only two years. Lots of stories. Danny says he could write a book.
But it's his baseball stories that I love.