My brother, Jefferson, penned this on Facebook and it doesn’t get any better than this. Thanks for permitting me the honor of posting this here.
My mom, Mary Jo, died in July at age 86. She was a faithful Indians fan until about a year ago when Alzheimer’s disease started to take hold.
For many years, she worked the 3 p.m.-11 p.m. shift as an emergency room nurse at hospitals in Fostoria and Bowling Green, which meant she always got home late and stayed up into the early hours of the morning.
Many nights, I would give up on the Indians and either go to bed early or go do something else. Even after she retired, she was so used to staying awake, she would regularly watch until the bitter end. Some years, there were a lot of bitter ends.
When they lost, she would always say something like, “Well, they screwed up again.”
If they won, the next day she was always happy to tell me she stayed up to watch, long after I bailed out.
“Oh, ye of little faith,” she would say.
Mom was in college at Ohio State in 1948 when the Indians last won the World Series. She remembered how every radio on campus seemed to be tuned to the Indians and classes were cancelled during the games.
It was largely because of her I started watching baseball many years later.
I got interested when I was in fifth grade and our family got cable TV. We could watch the Indians regularly on channel 43.
My mom insisted on watching the games, so I had to watch too. We only had one TV.
In those days, her favorite players were Rick Manning, Von Hayes, and Brook Jacoby.
My mom never went to a major league game but she always followed on TV or radio. When I was younger, my dad took me to Cleveland Stadium a few times.
My dad enjoyed watching baseball, too, but he typically fell asleep in his chair when the game was on and/or went to bed even before I did.
Especially after my dad died, my mom passed a lot of time watching the Indians during baseball season and the Browns (and also probably every Monday Night Football game ever) during football season.
Early last summer, I called her and she said she hadn’t been paying attention to the Indians that year. I knew something was wrong.
I stayed at her house for a couple of weeks in October to help out as her mind got foggier. I was there during baseball’s divisional series and league championships, so I watched a lot of baseball.
Even though I had games on the TV, she never really noticed, which was very unusual. She always watched the baseball playoffs, usually rooting for players who weren’t famous but who played hard.
She would be enjoying this Indians team, with what seems like a new hero every night.
I’m certain she would love Roberto Perez’s hustle after the first game with Boston, especially the way he tagged up at first to advance to second on a fly ball. I’m also sure she would have loved watching Jose Ramirez all year long.
And, last night, there was Ryan Merritt.
The game didn’t start until 10 p.m. here in Germany, where I live now. I went to bed kind of early and didn’t wake up until 11:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. back in Ohio.
I came out to the couch and turned on the TV quietly so I didn’t wake up my wife or my three daughters, and started watching the game just as Terry Francona shook Merritt’s hand as he left the mound.
I’m pretty sure my mom would have rooted for Merritt, who was the kind of player she always liked.
For that matter, I’m pretty sure my mom watched the whole game, whether I did or not.
Win or lose, she’ll be watching the World Series, too.
Jefferson Wolfe is currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany.