Monday, April 28, 2014

No. 38 – Day of Reckoning (Burnin’ for You)

Performer: Robbie Robertson
Songwriters: Robbie Robertson, David Ricketts
Original Release: Storyville
Year: 1991
Definitive Version: None.

I loved this huge, ethereal ode to desire on the first listen. I remember visiting Jin in Chicago soon after Storyville came out, and she said she had this song on audio in one of her editing bays, and the underlying synth at the beginning just filled the entire room.

Day of Reckoning speaks to me of Jenna and how badly I wanted her, both before and after we got together. Unfortunately, I’ve burned up all my Jenna stories already. Fortunately, most of my favorite songs apply to various situations, because I’ve listened to them constantly. That’s certainly the case with Day of Reckoning, which I included on the first Laurie Tunes tape I made in 2004 and was listening to a lot when I was in Cooperstown in February 2005.

My time in Cooperstown was as idyllic as you imagine a three-week trip devoted to baseball research at the Shrine of Baseball would be. However, it came uncomfortably close to an untimely end.

A few days after my arrival just before Valentine’s Day, I was heading out to the Hall of Fame library in the morning when … my car didn’t start. The engine didn’t even turn over. What the Hell … ?

I recalled the night I arrived. As I closed in on Cooperstown, not fully aware of what I might find in the way of creature comforts, I stopped for gas. When I came out of the station after paying, I saw what I thought was a drip beneath my car. I looked, and there seemed to be a small puddle, but I didn’t see another drip, so I figured it was nothing.

Now in Cooperstown, I looked again under the car. Sure enough, a small puddle, like at the gas station, had formed underneath.

My heart sank. I’d have to have my car towed to a mechanic, which killed the day at the library, but that was the least of my worries. I couldn’t afford a large repair … at all. I had no idea what the damage was, but if repairing my car ran into the hundreds, I’d have to cut short my stay.

I went to the owner of Countryside Lodging, where I stayed, and told him my problem. He said, hey, I got a friend who’s handy with cars. Why don’t I call him and have him take a look? If he can’t fix it, he’ll tow it for you. Uhh, OK. Meanwhile, if you still want to get into town, my wife’s going in an hour or so. That certainly was very generous of him.

I couldn’t stay long, because I had to be back in the innkeeper’s wife’s car by the time she left town about 3. I was glad to be at the library, but I struggled to keep my mind on my task. All I could think about was the potential expense.

But, like my previous experience with a car that wouldn’t start in Upstate New York (good ol’ No. 597), I dodged a bullet. The friend not only WAS able to identify the problem—a bad connector wire to my battery—but he also was able to fix it. The leak? Just my wiper fluid. He threw some duct tape on the container and refilled it. The innkeeper said he’d collect for parts—$92.

I was overjoyed at my relative good fortune—that I could stay. I couldn’t wait to tell Laurie about it. There was just one problem: I couldn’t call out on my landline phone, and because my suite was built into the side of the hill, I couldn’t make calls on my cellphone from inside my suite.

To use my cell, I had to go outside, which meant I had to bundle up snugly if I would be outside for longer than a minute, which I would if I were on the phone with Laurie. Oh well, sacrifices must be made for the greater good.

Everything else about my stay was, to coin a term, idyllic. It snowed one night, just a light dusting, and in the morning, I discovered that the snow was so cold that I could see each individual snowflake on my car. A little puff of breath made the snowflakes scatter about like leaves. Instead of telling Laurie about that, I hand-wrote a letter to better fit the mood.

My weekdays were spent almost entirely at the Giamatti library. The Giamatti library isn’t so much a library as it is a small office, with a few tables where you can pore over research files and a few microfilm readers. Every morning, I’d be let into the Hall of Fame by the security guard—for free!—and proceed to the library after first making a stop at the Johnny Bench and Babe Ruth plaques to pay proper homage. Then I’d set up music on my computer and get cracking.

The first week or so, I went through the transaction cards for the players I wanted—about 200—on microfilm. When I was done with that, it was on to the clip files. I was there from the time the door opened at 9 to the time they’d kick me out, at 5—never breaking for anything more than the bathroom if necessary. I had too much to do and too little time to do it to spend it on anything else.

After the first week, I was such a regular the staff just kept my files next to their desk, so they didn’t have to get them in the archives each time. They’d just wheel the cart of folders over to my station while I was setting up for the day.

I was at the Hall of Fame when the veterans committee vote was announced in 2005. That was cool in that when the vets shut out everyone AGAIN, the library staff and I spent time talking about the process and the candidates. Needless to say—but I’ll say it anyway—being at the Hall of Fame when a Hall of Fame event was taking place was really cool.

The first weekend I was there, I went to the Hall of Fame to just go as a tourist and see everything. It was different from the last time I’d been in 1999. A major reorganization of the entire museum was underway, so a lot of stuff was out of the display cases, which was a bit of a bummer.

A bigger bummer was how crowded everything was that weekend. After having Cooperstown practically to myself for a whole week, I had to share it with a throng of Red Sox fans. I thought maybe that’s just the way it went in the winter—Cooperstown was crowded on the weekends—but I found out in town that tickets for the annual Hall of Fame game at Doubleday Field, which featured those very same Red Sox, went on sale that day. Ah, bad timing then.

The next weekend, Cooperstown was only slightly less uncrowded than during the week. I didn’t do a lot of buying due to a lack of funds, but I did a lot of shopping that weekend. I bought a couple of things for myself, but mostly I bought gifts for Laurie—a crystal autographed.

Naturally, my three weeks flew by, but, surprisingly, I was ready to go home then. I wanted to see Laurie again, and I got everything accomplished I wanted to accomplish.

Just before I left, I finally took a lunch break. Another researcher was there, and it was an older gentleman I’d met through SABR during my time in Cleveland. When his stint came to an end, a day before mine, he ordered pizza to celebrate with the library staff, and they invited me to join them.

We sat in a conference room off the main floor of the Giamatti library—technically where I wasn’t allowed to be—taking baseball and eating pizza. It was a perfect capper to what had been, well, an idyllic time in an amazing place. If I never make it back to Cooperstown, I couldn’t wish for a better final visit.

No comments:

Post a Comment