Friday, November 2, 2012

No. 580 – Message to Love

Performer: Jimi Hendrix
Songwriter: Jimi Hendrix
Original Release: Band of Gypsys
Year: 1970
Definitive Version: Live at Woodstock, 1999

The last Jimi Hendrix album I bought before my self-imposed ban of anything Experience Hendrix was Live at Woodstock. I had to.

I bought Woodstock, MCA’s version of Hendrix’s epic appearance, in 1994 and played it to death that year and most of the next. But it was just a single disc of songs. Live at Woodstock was the whole performance, minus two songs by Larry Lee that no one cared about.

Message to Love, of course, was the opening song of the set, and Live at Woodstock was the first time I heard it. This means that the first time I heard it was when I went to Boston for All-Star Game-related events in 1999. I say related events, because I didn’t go to the actual All-Star Game—I figured I didn’t have nearly enough dough to afford scalper tickets to see the main event at the Fens.

Instead, I went to FanFest for a couple days. (This still was when I had more vacation time than Debbie had, so I went solo.) I also attended the prospects game, which was a new feature of All-Star weekend that year. It seemed like a good idea: showcase “future all-stars”—low-level minor leaguers in something of a junior all-star game. Besides, tickets were more affordable—I think I paid face, which was, like, $20.

The game itself was notable for two reasons: The first was that a player by the name of Alfonso Soriano hit two home runs over the Green Monster. Two years later, of course, he was part of the hated Yankees lineup and a legitimate all-star in his own right.

The second was I nearly got my second foul ball of the year. The game was sparsely attended, so I was able to move around the park and sit in different locations. By the seventh inning, I was in the box seats on the third-base side.

A player—can’t remember who—popped one foul over my head that hit one of the support poles and bounced on the steps right towards me. It was going to be an easy reach and grab, except a kid who had no chance of making the catch reached out and deflected it enough so it bounced away from me. Of course, that kid didn’t make it home that night. No, I’m just kidding. I don’t know what happened to him, but I’m sure he met the fate he deserved.

Anyway, FanFest was almost the same as it had been when Dave and I went in Cleveland in 1997. But it wasn’t as much fun, of course, because I was by myself. I got a few autographs, including Carl Yastrzemski’s, so that was cool.

But I split early, because if I were in Boston, that meant I was close enough to get a rental car and drive to Cooperstown, which is what I did. I wanted to hit all of the awesome baseball card and memorabilia stores there and then watch the Home Run Derby at a local bar. I thought that would be fun—to watch a baseball event in the fake Birthplace of Baseball. Then I’d drive back towards Boston that night to fly home the next morning in time to watch the All-Star Game that night.

I don’t know what I was expecting—a packed bar, I suppose, all glued to the exploits of Mark McGwire & Co (speaking of fake). The reality was I was about the only one in the bar where I watched, and I certainly was the only one there watching the Derby on TV. Oh well. It’s never a bad thing to be in Cooperstown, regardless of the reason.

And with that, the baseball stories come to an end … for a few days at least.

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