Freud: Hey, Mom (and, yes, Pop), we ﬁnally won one
This isn’t going to be an “I told you so” column, even though I did have the San Francisco winning the NL West in this space on Opening Day.This isn’t going to be an analysis of why the Giants are lords and masters of all they survey, except for one minor blurb. That 2010 was The Year of the Pitcher is utter garbage. Ever since the game’s murky beginnings in 19th Century America, baseball has been all about pitching. The more you have of it and the better it is – the thing even great Giants teams since 1954 were always missing – you win, and that is why San Francisco is the capital of the baseball world today.It’s San Francisco’s first baseball crown, the Giants’ first since 1954 when they played in New York, which is all very nice, but not the crux of the matter, though it does provide a nice segue.In 1954, Nicholas Freud (aka future Pop) was 12 and Elsa Doskow (Mom to-be) was 11, both living within a block or two of each other in Manhattan when the Giants beat the Cleveland Indians in four. (They would meet in dancing school a few years later and, thus, yes, I know how to waltz.) This is where we would start in on the sappy story of a father passing on his love of baseball to his son, but …It never happened.Growing up as the son of immigrants in the epicenter of the baseball world in New York City during the game’s golden era, Pop never got into baseball. (This just mystifies me still.) In fact, he hated it. The man was totally oblivious to sports of any form except for Yale-Harvard football where it was always the former’s duty to smite the infidels because Pop spent seven years in New Haven (both undergrad and law school).So naturally, Pop married Elsa Doskow on July 23, 1966. It’s always hard for the offspring to understand their parents’ relationship, but this one was a whopper, a loving relationship, yet a turbulent one. Freuds love opera, vote the Republican ticket and express themselves freely and loudly. Doskows aren’t big opera fans, definitely vote Democrat, are rather quiet when it comes to emotional expression (and certainly more silent than Freuds) and love baseball, have it in their blood.The Freuds landed in San Francisco in 1968 and your local sports reporter touched down in 1971. From Pop, I got opera, and the ability to express myself at all times (doubtless much to the delight of anyone who has known me). From Mom came political leanings (moderate Democrat) and yes, baseball.And thus, the lines were drawn.’It’s a disease’It was my second Giants game that had me hooked because it was the first time Mom went with me and started explaining what Pop thought was nonsense. It was Willie McCovey Day in 1977 and Stretch drove in the game-winner.For show-and-tell at kindergarten the next day I told and I showed. I recreated the game-winning single batting right-handed and running around the carpet about six times in a clockwise direction. My heart was in it, even though the technical details weren’t.The next spring, Pop came into my room and declared, “Mother’s Day is coming up and we should take your mother somewhere.” Self-servingly, I suggested a ball game because Mom liked baseball. I’m sure Pop was thinking, “Bleep, he’s got me there.”I have never taken Mom to brunch for Mother’s Day. Since then, we always go to a game, maybe not on Mother’s Day proper since the Giants aren’t always at home on the second Sunday in May, but always sometime.Yes, Mom and I have a lot of things in common, but baseball is the bond. And Pop suffered in very stormy silence. Countless times, Pop would be speaking to us on one side of the kitchen and then both Mom and I would hear the volume rise on the radio, signifying something had happened in the Giants game. Mom and I naturally scurried over to the radio, crouching over it to find out what happened, while Pop was still in mid-sentence about something of great import, all of a sudden, realizing he was talking to no one.As this happened repeatedly, Pop went through stages of shock, anger and, eventually, resignation. As far as he was concerned, baseball was a disease – his words – and he honestly wondered what he had done to deserve this and other baseball agonies.For a while when I was little, every Giants game we went to went extra innings. I was thrilled – more baseball. Pop? “The Freud family left Europe to watch a sport where the object is to run around in a circle?” When I was begging Pop to take me to ball game in the late 70s, he said “Sure, I’ll take you to night game at Wrigley Field.”That even backfired on him when the lights went up at the Friendly Confines in 1988. All three of us went to Chicago in 1990.What was worse than the baseball itself was the accompanying heartbreak when things did inevitably go horribly wrong with Giants- 1987, 1989, 1993, 2000, 2003, and, most of all, 2002.Pop would bellow, “If this game makes you so miserable, why do you watch it?” As a side note, Pop may have arrived at the answer when he saw his beloved Yale lose to Harvard in triple overtime in 2005. I was there watching with him in San Francisco and got out of Dodge in hurry. There are telltale signs of a Freud eruption.My parents were vacationing in Mendocino, Calif., for the fateful sixth game of the 2002 World Series. The Giants led three games to two and had a 5-0 lead against the Angels only to collapse, losing 6-5. I didn’t watch Game 7 here in Colorado. Mom didn’t want to watch in Mendocino because she, too, knew that teams don’t recover from such a dive.While Mom left the room, Pop flipped over to Game 7, genuinely hoping to tell Mom that the Giants had won the Series. Mom walked back into the room too quickly, and was furious (in a very silent way).A new normalNo person is ever ready to be a parent. Pop really wasn’t. He wanted a 30-year-old son, with whom he could go to operas and restaurants and drink scotch and smoke cigars. All things considered, I was an over-achiever in that respect since I got there in about 25 years.Pop also liked everything neat and orderly. Children, not to mention me, aren’t. Just like Pop, I took seven years to get through college – with an undergraduate journalism degree. That pained him greatly. And then I was going into “sports writing?””People pay you to write about sports?” he asked when I was applying for jobs, eventually landing here with the Vail Daily in 1997. Pop finally discovered this phenomena known as ESPN on his satellite dish in around 2003 or 2004. Despite the fact that Pop had no idea what I was doing for a living, we were close. We loved each other.Pop died on Aug. 18, 2006, of a heart attack.I flew home and Mom and I turned on the Giants game because we didn’t know what else to do. Both of us were zombies, but we had to watch baseball because that was something normal. We went to the ball park twice in the week following, seeing two starts from some rookie named Matt Cain. Funny the things you remember.In a world where I lot has changed, Mom and I have tried to keep a few things familiar. For Mother’s Day 2007, the Giants were kind enough to call on the Rockies, so Mom came to Coors Field and the Giants kicked the daylights out of Colorado, 15-1.Both Mom and I make progress as we can with Pop’s death. It’s an awful, but it does get better.The 2010 Giants helped continue the process of Mom and I establishing a “new normal.” Before Pop died, the Giants would win and would be in the playoffs. This was our first pennant race since. The daily conversations have been less “Are you OK?” They’re more “Who’s starting tonight,” and other stuff that can’t be repeated since both Mom and I swear like sailors when it comes to the Giants.What’s been even better for me is that during this playoff run, I’ve heard Pop more clearly. He has been raging on about the playoffs going on forever, as if in death, there is still a conspiracy against him in the world of baseball.It’s comfortable. It’s normal.The World Series? This is unadulterated joy. After Pop, any reason to be happy is good, and this is a particularly well-delivered one.And, no, Pop, after winning the World Series, we’re not going to stop watching the Giants. Mother’s Day in 2011 is April 8, the Giants’ home opener.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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