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Why it's never been a game to me.

January 15, 2009

Baseball has never been a game to me, regardless of what anyone outside the profession may think. It wasn’t a game to me before I was a player, and certainly wasn’t a game when I was a player. It was always more than that to me and this story below nails it in so many ways.

SHADOW GAMES: Baseball and Me
Posted on Dec 22, 2008 10:29 am
By Todd Drew

I went to a baseball game after my father’s funeral. I also went to one after finding out about my mother’s brain cancer.

It was selfish and heartless. I felt guilty before and embarrassed after, but for nine innings I felt only the game. That’s the way it’s always been between baseball and me.

It was my friend when I didn’t have any others. And it has always been there to talk or listen or simply to watch.

Baseball helps me forget and it makes me remember. That’s why it was exactly what I needed on the worst days of my life.

But there were no games when a doctor told me that I had cancer. The neighborhood was out of baseball on that cold November day. No one was playing at Franz Sigel Park or John Mullaly Park. And there wasn’t even a game of catch in Joyce Kilmer Park. The last game at the old Yankee Stadium was long gone and Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium was long off.

So I went home and wished for one of those summer days when I was a kid and my mother would send me to the ballpark with a paper sack stuffed with her famous tuna-fish sandwiches. That was back when you could slip through a delivery gate with the beer kegs and watch batting practice. And it was always okay to come home late with a beat-up scorecard and popcorn stuck between your teeth.

The doctor told me that tomorrow’s surgery and chemotherapy treatment might keep me in the hospital for 10 days.

“At least it’s December,” I said. “There aren’t any ballgames to miss.”

And I will be ready to slip through a delivery gate with the beer kegs when the new Yankee Stadium opens. I’ll watch batting practice with one of my mother’s famous tuna-fish sandwiches and come home late with a beat-up scorecard and popcorn stuck between my teeth.

Cancer can’t change the way it will always be between baseball and me.

I was informed that Todd passed away today and I would like to send my thoughts, prayers and condolences to this Yankee fan, who I have immense admiration and respect for, and his family. I hope you find comfort in the Lord in this trying time.

That letter was posted at Alex Belth’s Yankee Banter Blog

19 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2009 9:24 pm

    Curt,
    While I sometimes disagree with some of your views and opinions, I have to say you’ve done a great thing here by shedding a little light on Todd, his family, his writing, and his untimely passing. I didn’t know Todd and have only recently come to read his very eloquent writing, but he seemed to approach and view the game much like Bart Giamatti did. Thanks for calling attention to this; hopefully the outpouring of support can help the Drew family find a bit of solace.

  2. Cory permalink
    January 15, 2009 9:25 pm

    Curt you have always been a stand up guy and straight shooter and that’s why people will continue to have a deep respect and admiration for you long after your playing years. If I could just ask you 1 question, I have never read any R.A Salvatore books which one would you recommend I start with?
    http://www.rasalvatore.com/bookstore/#RASBooks?selection=6 and get books 1/2/3 of the Dark Elf series. Homeland, Exile and Sojourn

  3. DONNA BLANC permalink
    January 16, 2009 6:01 am

    You give a beautiful,touching,very moving tribute and once again you have expressed yourself so very eloquently. Thank you for sharing this with us and once again it shows what a special human being you are,off the field as well as on. By the way,what makes you think that those of us outside of the profession think that it is “just a game” to you? I am interested to know how you came to that conclusion because so many of us,myself included,understand that it is much more than that and agree that it is so much more than that…But I do not want to diminish your beautiful tribute to a man who expressed it so well. What you said,wrote,touched me deeply and I thank you once again for sharing your thoughts on a man who will be missed.

  4. DeniseSoxFan permalink
    January 16, 2009 7:55 am

    Curt, you are a class act. Thanks for sharing this man’s story.

  5. avidsoxfan permalink
    January 16, 2009 8:17 am

    Mr Schilling,

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Drew family during this sad time. I can relate to how he felt about going to a ballgame and escaping reality for 9 innings. My mom was diagnosed with ALS in Feb ’08 at age 78. Having ALS touch you personally, you learn it never leaves you. The sadness never went away, no matter how hard I tried to “fake” it. There was one place that I could escape to and leave the sadness behind. That one place was Fenway Park. Going to see games during the summer was like going on a 3 hour vacation. I almost forgot that ALS was a part of my world. It was the one place where I could really enjoy myself and feel “normal” and not think about anything medical. Sadly, my mom passed away in Dec ’08, 10 months after being diagnosed, 3 weeks before Christmas. I miss her terribly, but I know she is in a much better place. I will forever be a part of the ALS-world. Thank you for your efforts to find a cure. Your dedication and commitment is apprecitated very much.

    Looking forward to Opening Day. Go Sox!

  6. January 16, 2009 10:21 am

    Todd was one of the very first people to read my blog and offered me nothing but encouragement.

    One day last year when I commented on another blog about whether or not Steinbrenner’s daughters were involved with the team, Todd sent me an email with an article he thought I’d be interested in.

    in the time I was lucky enough to know him, he was one of the nicest, most extraordinary people I’ve ever met.

    I’ve been around death my entire life, comes with the territory when your dad’s the youngest in his family, but this is the first time I’ve felt like I’ve lost something, only it’s not just me–it’s the entire world.

    Curt, I have to say that for various reasons, there’s not a whole lot we have in common, but your tribute is beautiful. From the bottom of my Yankee heart, but more importantly, from the bottom of my human heart, thank you.

  7. jay destro permalink
    January 16, 2009 11:13 am

    todd was a great writer and fan. he’ll be missed.

  8. Eric permalink
    January 16, 2009 1:37 pm

    Nice tribute to him – thanks for sharing this.

  9. Dano permalink
    January 16, 2009 2:08 pm

    Curt, i am another regular reader on pete abe’s blog on the yankees, and so wouldn’t naturally gravitate to read your blog or, as rebecca says above, find much in common with you.

    But sometimes life gives us all an opportunity to show our mettle, by confronting us with situations that transcend ‘petty’ differences and asking us if we are able to look at a bigger picture. And with this post, I hope you don’t mind me saying, you show some considerable class.

    Good on you sir.

  10. Yanks fan in Austin permalink
    January 16, 2009 3:34 pm

    Well done, Curt.

  11. Boston Dave permalink
    January 16, 2009 3:38 pm

    Curt, I’m another Yankee fan from Pete Abraham’s blog. It seems like there are many of us who have come to your site today to share in Todd’s memory. He helped us to share in our love of baseball, life, and is even bringing us Yankee fans here to say thank you to you for this post. Thank you Mr. Schilling.

  12. January 16, 2009 4:17 pm

    I always hated when my team went up against you because you are the King of all Yankee Killers. Life was so much simpler thinking you were a bad guy, but obviously you have a big heart and you’re a caring human being. Cheers, Curt.

  13. Pete Glass permalink
    January 16, 2009 6:11 pm

    As another yankee fan coming to this blog for the first time (linked from Pete Ab’s site) I want to thank you for posting this story and giving a true baseball fan the recognition he deserves, even if its unfortunetly posthumously.

    Pete

  14. January 16, 2009 7:05 pm

    Curt,
    I’m a die-hard Yankees fan and blogger. It has always been easy for me to dislike you (like Scott said, you are the King of all Yankee Killers)but this blog has made me see a different side of you and realize that you have a great heart for everyone, not just your fans. Thanks so much for this post. Todd meant a lot to yankees fans and all bloggers.

    Brit

  15. January 16, 2009 10:26 pm

    Curt,

    Thanks for your post. I’ve read some of Todd’s writing and his feeling for baseball is shared by so many of us. It is an opportunity to escape for a few hours and relive the memories of our past. The success of the Sox has made the experience more enjoyable but it’s the frosting on the cake. For the past three years (since ALS came into our lives) the most wonderful father/son memories that we’ve had have been at Fenway. My son may not be able to physically cheer with the other fans but the look in his eyes when we’re at a game is unmistakable. There’s a simple joy about being at Fenway with the electric atmosphere that’s present every night that takes away so many of life’s cruelties. For those few short hours Justin and I are just two baseball fans reliving our childhood dreams together. Thank you from ALS patients everywhere…we know how hard you’re working for us and you’ll always be the #1 starter in our rotation.

    Jack

  16. January 17, 2009 12:21 am

    For years I could not get along with my Dad, but we could always talk baseball. It’s religion, not a sport. That’s why whether it’s a single A game, the majors, or just kids playing stickball, well, I’m captivated.

  17. Leo Martin permalink
    January 18, 2009 10:01 am

    Curt,
    One thing that was wrapped throughout your comment that I want to make sure people understand is that Tek’s `PRIMARY job is to lead the pitching staff by calling for pitches that will work on the batter and that the pitchers are currently comfortable with to maintain the pitcher’s rhythm, not go to the batter’s. He’s got to continue to catch the ball of course, nad if he can only hit .220 – who gives a “rat’s posterior” – I certainly don’t !
    The 1:1 between Tek and John Henry told me that Tek wasn’t happy with his SLIME BALL agent (I cleaned that up for publication)and is looking to take command of his future the same way he takes command at the plate.
    I check the web site every day hoping to find that he’s reached an agreement with the Sox, and will until Tek signs !

  18. Raul permalink
    January 19, 2009 10:49 am

    Thanks Curt,
    Now i know what a class act you are…

  19. Bryan permalink
    January 19, 2009 7:32 pm

    Curt-

    Thank you for posting this. Todd was my friend and colleague, and I miss him very much.

    In addition to being a dedicated Yankee fan, Todd was a passionate advocate for social justice. Last year, he and I worked closely for the better part of six months on a series of wallet-sized cards designed to empower voters to exercise and protect their right to vote. You two probably would have been on opposite ends of the political spectrum even as you were obviously so close in your love for baseball.

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