Jimmy was walking to school with an extra bounce in his step on this crisp, sunny, October morning. He lived on Windsor Place between eighth and ninth avenues. The ecstatic Cincinnati Reds fan and his father were walking together up Windsor Place towards ninth avenue. Their favorite team had their backs against the wall last night in Game 4 of the NLCS trailing 2-1 in the best three out of five.
“Dad, the Mets fans are going to give me a hard time at school.”
“Don’t worry about it, that was a great homer by Petey last night,” Jimmy’s dad answered.
As they approached the corner of Windsor and ninth Jimmy stood next to a couple of Holy Name students waiting for the red light to turn green.
“Reds got lucky last night,” said some wise-ass kid Jimmy didn’t know.
All Jimmy could do was smile as he crossed on the green and his dad made a right on the avenue heading towards his teaching job up at Bishop Ford.
“Have a good day Jimmy, and don’t take anything from those Mets fans. The series is tied at two now!”
The kid with the Reds comment gave Jimmy’s dad a dirty look.
Jimmy didn’t say anything back to his dad who was a bigger Reds fan than him as he hustled across the avenue into the girls schoolyard and up the black stairs to his class up on the third floor. Everyone in Holy Name knew Jimmy was from Cincinnati and knew he was a huge Reds fan. He wore his Reds cap daily and had a sweet Reds home jersey with BENCH written on the back and the number five.
“Fuck the Reds and fuck Pete Rose,” a kid whispered to Jimmy as he walked past him on the stairs. It didn’t take long for the pot shots to start.
Jimmy ignored him, but it was hard. He wanted to say something back because after all the series was now tied at two games after Rose hit a home run in the top of the twelfth inning last night. He knew the Mets fans in his class were going to come at him, especially after they watched their team get only three hits last night against four Reds pitchers.
“I can’t believe Harry Parker gave up a homer to that chump,” Michael said as the students made their way into Miss Monzillo’s seventh grade class.
Jimmy was walking behind Michael and did his best not to respond.
The NLCS was now headed to the fifth and final game, the winner would go to the World Series. The Mets were at home and their ace Tom Seaver was on the hill.
“It’s OK, we got Seaver going tonight for the clincher,” Peter added from across the room.
Miss Monzillo was sitting behind her desk working on the day’s lesson plan.
All the boys agreed with Peter’s prediction. Shea would be packed tonight and the 7-train subway platform would be rockin’.
Two hours later out in the boys schoolyard during recess the boys were hanging out against the church wall discussing last night’s game.
“The Mets are screwed tonight, Rusty Staub is out after dislocating his shoulder diving for that ball last night,” JC said.
Staub, the Mets right fielder made an amazing catch in the outfield but after the game it was announced that he would miss game five.
“It’s a tough break for the Mets but he was hitless in five at-bats last night and he’s hitting .200 in the series,” Jimmy said.
“His two homers the other night were big but the Mets will be fine tonight even without him, watch.” Bllly said.
“How the fuck do you, as a team only get three hits in twelve innings?” JC asked in disgust.
“They were all singles too,” Billy pointed out.
“With Seaver throwing tonight, the Mets will be sipping champagne in the clubhouse after the game,” Peter added.
Peter was a huge Tom Seaver fan. He knew all his stats. And he even tried to emulate the way Tom Terrific pitched. He wore jersey number forty-one for Holy Name’s Rookie baseball team.
“Hey Jimmy, you must have been excited when Rose hit that homer huh?” Michael asked as Miss Monzillo walked over to the group of boys.
“What are you kids doing standing around, start up a game of punch ball or something,” she ordered.
The game of choice during recess was punchball or sometimes they would play full court basketball on the middle court.
The students respected Miss Monzillo, whenever she ordered them to do something they usually did as they were told. They knew if they crossed her, she would send them down to the principal’s office.
The boys chose up sides and began a game of punch ball.
After recess back in class there was more talk about the series.
“I say Seaver tosses a no-no tonight,” said Peter.
“You fuckin’ crazy or what?” Billy chimed in. “No way any pitcher in their right mind shuts down the Big Red Machine, right Jimmy Boy?”
Jimmy looked at Billy and was afraid to agree even though he knew there was no way Seaver, as good as he was could no-hit one of the best hitting teams in the majors.
“Jack Billingham is pitching for the Reds tonight, he did pretty good in game one,” Jimmy added.
“Fuck Billingham, the Mets are gonna jump all over him,” Billy said.
Miss Monzillo restored order. She had the boys get in their seats and class began.
“Charlie Hustle does it again,” Pattie mentioned to no one in particular, clearly trying to agitate the Mets fans.
“Hey Pattie, who the Yankees playin’ tonight?” Michael shouted across the classroom.
Miss Monzillo was not happy.
“Michael, that’s enough. Put your head in that book and get to work!” she shouted.
Poor Pattie, he was a big Yankees fan that had to endure everyone’s shit while the Mets played in the National League Championship Series.