DAY #11:….my plan to escape from Wall St. took shape thanks to my dad. to encourage me to read more and watch less tv, he subscribed to Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News, I still have a subscription to S.I. to this day…. however, it was in the Sporting News that ran a monthly add for “The Dick Howser Florida Baseball School” in West Palm Beach Florida…..and, the add said that the School will help you to sign with a Major League team or, if not ready for that, help you to get a baseball scholarship to college.so the light bulb went off in my head and I said this will be my way out…. so for $200 I got one month room and board at the school…. for those of you who have no clue who Dick Howser was (he died of a brain tumor at 52) he was a Floridian born in Bradenton, and was a very good second baseman as a kid and got a baseball scholarship to Florida State University. his accomplishments are too numerous to mention here but I will list the main ones….. after his untimely death, FSU named their baseball stadium… The Dick Howser Stadium… he won the Rookie of the Year in 1960 as a member of the team that drafted him, The Kansas City A’s (now the Oakland A’s). best Rookie in all of baseball….. he had a great career with the Royals and at the last stage of his career the NY Yankees signed him to be their 2nd baseman..remember what i keep repeating I have “perfect timing” and lots of good ‘luck”.. (and my seeing him again after all those years went by from me going to his school in 1963 until I saw him in a Yankee Uniform will be a future story of mine- and I have Anthony “shoes” Florio (former Yankee batboy from our neighborhood!) here we go again!….”perfect timing” and lots of more good “luck” to thank for setting this up for me. so you will have to wait a while for that story….. anyway, with that said, I had to sell my 25 shares of Schenley Whiskey stock to pay for the school and of course, I quit my job at the brokerage firm. what a liberating feeling that was! so the Christmas Holidays went great… the school would be for the month of February of 1963. so in January I began to work out physically so I would be in the best shape possible…. that also meant swinging my bat over and over for hours on end in our kitchen…. I remember seeing my mom and dad smiling at each other as it to say “he’s out of his mind”….. but I knew they were rooting for me especially my dad who approved of me quitting my job before the Holidays….. my mom, of course, was getting nervous by the day that her first born son was “flying the coop”.
Finally the day came to go to the midtown Bus Terminal and board the Greyhound Bus to West Palm Beach, Florida to begin the next stage of my life….honestly, I had mixed emotions, I was elated to go on this unknown adventure but being an “overprotected” son living in an “overprotective” neighborhood…. Mulberry St., Columbus Park and the James Center was my whole universe for 19 years, I was also “scared shitless”! but my future was out there and I had to go out into the unknown, take the risk, to reap whatever reward I could grab onto…..
my dad, the tough ex-Marine who raised me with much love and an iron fist actually followed me onto the bus to say good by…my mom couldn’t come because she had her other kids to take care of and she couldn’t stop crying when I left the apt. Just before I took my seat, my dad gave me a big hug, and I was shocked to see that, he had tears coming down his eyes as he handed me a poem which I still have today…. It’s a famous poem by an unknown author called “DON’T QUIT” he left the bus, I read this uplifting poem and now tears were flowing down my cheeks too….you should google this poem to see the beauty of it…..my dad must have gotten it when he was in the Marines during WWII… I just realize I never asked him where he got it….so the bus left the Terminal and I saw the seats in the first row opposite the driver were unoccupied so i quickly made a bee line and plopped myself down….. great view out the front window with plenty of unknown miles to go…. I kept pestering each bus driver who took over the bus to please let me know when we get to West Palm Beach……after what seemed to be forever, we finally got to there at 4am the next morning….I couldn’t call the school to pick me up at that time, so I walked out of the Bus Depot to the Dock by the bay and walked on the dock until I saw a big boat that had a nice soft cushion on it’s long seat…. I went on the boat and laid down and looked up at the sky in the balmy early morning darkness and saw the most amazing sky filled with stars i had never seen before in the concrete city of NY…. I took a deep breath, had a big smile on my face as I thought to myself, “this is amazing, I was freezing to death yesterday, throwing snowballs and now I was in balmy Palm Beach, surrounded by beautiful palm trees swaying in the breeze. I couldn’t wait for daylight to come so I could call the school and get picked up…….. I waited til 8am to call the school and by 8:30am I got picked up……my new adventure was about to begin…..to be continued tomorrow…as I am all pooped out……
it’s amazing that re-telling my stories is almost like re-living them all over again! Stay Safe my friends, no matter how bad things seem right now……eventually our lives will get better….. one-tough-day-at-a-time !
Read the next post Taking Stock Day 12.