It was planned to be the perfect day trip for a guess-I'm-retired New Yorker who thought he loved baseball and Italian food equally: take the bargain bus down to Baltimore, get the free birthday-month ticket in the upper deck, watch a meaningful game between two teams in playoff contention for two-and-a-half hours, and then take the free bus over to Little Italy where I would be confronted by the same daunting challenge I have every time I've been in Baltimore: Da Mimmo's or Sabatino's?
But who knew I would be treated to the most exciting baseball game I've ever attended in which Jimmy Qualls did not get a single in the ninth inning? (Gary Thorne or your grandfather will explain.) If I had left before the game ended I would have missed hearing John Denver singing after the 14th inning as well; shared with 25,000 people who had skipped work or med school at John Hopkins for something they hadn't seen in 15 years if ever; watched a rookie young enough to be my grandson demonstrate the baseball smarts of someone twice his age.
And seen heartbreaking disappointment (bases loaded, no outs!) followed by an outfielder playing between first base and second base and finally a two-out lazy fly that the other team's outfielder juuuust missed.
I wound up grabbing a plastic-wrapped chicken sandwich at the train station before the last bus back to New York.
And I realize it's not an either-or situation. I love baseball more than Italian food.
Because in extra innings with the score tied, who really craves a nice veal chop?
Jim Vespe, Larchmont, N.Y.