The guy was our age, meaning he, too, had grown up in the heyday of the Say Hey Kid.
The guy had a well-worn, sweat-stained Giants cap complete with several stick-pin mementos, including the highly regarded Croix de Candlestick, evidence of having braved extra-inning night games at the Giants' previous, far-from-fan-friendly confines. And the guy was already there, in the AT&T Park bleachers, when we arrived 90 minutes before the first pitch on a recent Sunday.
In other words, the guy was a gamer, as Mike Krukow might say.
So, when the guy interrupted the conversation between my longtime friend Bill and me, we didn't rebuff him. To the contrary, he had already established his street cred, or in this case his baseball cred, with that cap and his early-arrival presence, in the bleachers, no less. We welcomed him.
Bill and I had been talking about the pristine-looking condition of the field, and that back in the day, when we were kids and first watched big-league baseball, at least some of the fields seemed, well, less than pristine.
That thread of conversation led me to recall how a rock (actually, a pebble, but what's the harm in a bit of dramatic hyperbole?) in the infield had caused an injury to a shortstop and prolonged a key rally in the eighth inning of a World Series Game 7.
“A routine grounder hit a rock in the infield, came up and hit the shortstop in the throat,” I said to Bill. “He had to leave the game and ...”
Before I could finish, the guy jumped in.
“Yeah, Dick Groat,” he said. “Pirates. The 1960 Series.”
Hmm. Right Series, wrong player.
“No,” I said cheerfully, “it was the Yankees shortstop who got injured. Tony Kubek.”
“Oh, yeah, that's right,” the guy said. “Pirates-Yankees. Mazeroski's homer won it in the 10th.”
“Actually, it was the bottom of the ninth,” I said, still maintaining a light, convivial tone, simply wanting to inform, not wanting to come off as a schoolmarm.