1966. Terri. We went to 4th-8th grades together, then to high school. As a sophomore she became smoking hot. Gallo still looked like a 7th grader. But during the hour-long bus ride we would bond with discussions of classes and the boys she liked. I was safe. Yes, I did her homework. Yes, I carried some water for the boys she liked. Yes, I talked to her on the phone late at night when she felt alone or rejected. She asked me to the Senior Prom when the boy she wanted wasn’t available. It was a bases loaded/no runs scored situation. I declined the prom, and kept something resembling my dignity. By the time we were in college, she no longer returned phone calls when we were both back home for the holidays. She has married a dentist, I hear, and lives in Fresno. They have season tickets to the Grizz, but they don’t use them.
Final score: 1-0.
1969. Cheryl. Sat next to her in an auditorium class called Art History 1A. She: cute as a buster, with a hint of sophistication because of Pasadena privilege. Me: still a 7th grader. We both failed the Art History mid-term. They actually expected us to, like, learn the signs. What’s that about? We studied together for the second half of the quarter (4 weeks), and we passed the Final. I asked her out. She accepted because saying no would have been difficult, and I spent a month of food money at a Swiss restaurant in Newport Beach. I asked her out again, but she was busy. I was DFA. In my remaining years at Irvine, I saw her around occasionally. Classmates tells me she graduated in ’76. A prospect I couldn’t sign. I'm sure someone did.
Final score: 1-0.
1972. Jackie. Met in Spanish 12A. It was taught by Alphonso Diez-Alonzo, a hysterical little Argentine in his first year as Assn’t Prof. He has gone on to become chairman of the Dept and big juju in Latin Am Lit. We couldn’t understand most of his rants. But Jackie and I flirted in our lame Spanish, and when I went to Spain for my junior year we wrote to each other in that old way, which involved actual writing, often thrice a week by Eurogram. Like Old Hoss Radbourne, I'd have pitched every day if necessary. Later we had an actual affair, but I was distracted by a shiny object, and we never signed an actual contract. Last year she asked me if I still had those letters. I did, and so did she. We exchanged samples, to our mutual amusement. The game was different back then. She has become a world class librarian with an astonishing career: UCLA Lib MA, Library of Congress, Getty Museum, UC Special Collections. Married Nobel Prize winning Bio-Physicist 25 years ago. The letters remain uncollected; The Hall has asked for them, but Gallo sits firm. No. Not until after I die.
Final score: 2-0.
1975. Maria. Madrid. She hated the ways of the Spanish male and thought briefly that this American boy from the far west coast of Iowa might be better. She was wrong, but it took a second trip to Spain to convince her, sort of like that last eastern road swing of the year, the one that ends in St. Louis on a Monday afternoon where you fall behind in the 8th and can’t answer in the top half. You just go home and wait until next year. Next year never comes. They play a very different game of ball in Europe.
Final score: 2-1.
1976. My ex-wife, Ty Cobb. Understood the game like nobody else. Lacked delicate application of unwritten rules. Symbiotic fail, sort of like the strike out/steal that ended last night’s game. Many good seasons, some collapses, and at least one spectacular win: Alex. Better than the World Series, but not better than winning the World Series.
Final score: 3-2.
1999. Two German ladies: Marina and Hermiony. Think of them as Joe Carter and Ellis Burks. Rented rooms upstairs from mine. Couldn’t believe that rich Bay Area men weren’t massing to escort them to Top of the Mark. Signed brief contracts at a time their skills were needed.
Final score: 2:1.
2008. Lyla. Elegant, athletic, smart. Gallo’s age, but with a clue, or even two. Not much different from the signings of Steve Carlton or Randy Johnson, except she had 5 children rather than 300 wins.
Final score: 1-0.
Good pitching beats good hitting. At least that’s what I’m told.