Performer: Led Zeppelin
Songwriter: Jimmy Page
Original Release: Physical Graffiti
Definitive Version: None
One thing I didn’t know right away about Dave—but learned fairly quickly—is he’s not afraid to take advantage of his position as a journalist to get in on a good scam once in a while.
Dave had already used his job to scam a lengthy road trip to Rochester, N.Y., to watch baseball … and write a huge feature about a Fenton player who was trying to make it in the majors—Mickey Weston.
Now, in September, he parleyed that into passes to the deciding game of the International League playoffs in Columbus as the logical final chapter. The angle was Weston was going to start the game for Rochester. Of course, Dave needed a trusty “photographer” to go with him, and I was quickly recruited. It would be the first playoff game of any kind that I had seen since I played in one in little league.
It would be a there-and-back quick hitter—no overnight, even though, of course, I had accommodations on the home front if needed. It was a cool, drizzly drive down and there were no on-field pregame activities to be had because of the conditions. A tarp covered the infield. There was no question the game would be played, but they didn’t want to muck it up with practice.
So we took our spots up in the press box, where it was nice and dry and warm, and sat in the same booth as the official scorer, who asked for our counsel on a few things during the course of the game.
Dave was disappointed by the sparse crowd. Where is everybody? This is the deciding game of the playoffs! Silly Dave. He actually expected that people would show up to a minor-league baseball game the same day—at about exactly the same time—as the football season opener for Ohio State. Doesn’t matter! This is the DECIDING GAME, dammit! Sorry, Dave, but in Columbus (at the time and only less so now) there are only two sports that anyone cares about: Ohio State football and Ohio State spring football. He seethed in righteous indignation.
Weston pitched well and was relieved while holding the lead in the sixth inning. The Red Wings hung on and won the title, so that meant we got to go down into the winning clubhouse for interviews. Being in the winning clubhouse meant we also were part of the winning celebration. And because this is the minor leagues, nothing was choreographed. We got sprayed with champagne, drank from a victory bottle that was passed around the room and got soaked by a hose brought in by Leo Gomez (who had a few good years in the bigs). We heard Chris Holies’ victory speech, and finally Dave was able to corral Weston for a few quotes.
The next thing we knew, we were out in the bullpen on the field, and we both got the same bright idea that a little thievery was in order: game balls that were left behind as the celebration began. Dave also was eyeing the mitts strewn about, but I drew the line on that. Yeah, he thought better of it, too.
As we left the clubhouse behind the left-field bleachers, there was one more sight to behold: League officials left the Governor’s Cup sitting on a table for later presentation, so we were able to fondle it and pose for a picture. (By now, any sense that we were there as professional journalists had long since been discarded.) Not bad for a single-day jaunt.
Anyway, I always liked this song—a beam of sunlight on a spring meadow that’s dotted with daisies—but it's best served in The Song Remains the Same as the backing music to when Zeppelin is driving into New York City and Madison Square Garden for the show. It's a quiet little prelude to the manic main event to come.
In a sense, that's exactly what Columbus was for me and Dave—a prelude. The main event would come later that month when a bigger and better scam would play out—Comiskey Park’s Grand Finale.