Happy Mother’s Day: Mom made me a sports writer
Here’s to the real hero
I guess I should be used to it: Being called, “Mr. Freud.” I really do expect a nearly 300-pound international tax attorney and estate planner to appear, complete with bespoke three-piece suit, bow tie and pocket watch.
Even more amusing might have been Mr. Freud actually covering a sporting event. Aside from the annual Harvard-Yale football game (For God, for country, for Yale), Pop had little use for sports.
This is the point when everyone asks, “So how did you get into sports? You seem to be kind of into baseball.”
That would be Mom.
My parents grew up in New York City in the 1950s, the capital of baseball’s Golden Era, and, apparently, Pop was about the only immigrant who didn’t use the national pastime as an assimilation tool for his new country. While Pop was trying to restore the majesty of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – please don’t ask — Mom watched the Sunday Yankees game with her father on television.
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Mother’s Day has nothing to do with brunch or flowers with Elsa and Chris Freud. We didn’t always do San Francisco Giants games. Some years, we would go across the Bay. In 1990, the Red Sox and A’s played on the second Sunday in May. This would be a preview of that year’s American League Championship and featured Dave Stewart and Roger Clemens on the mound, a pretty good marquee. We enjoyed the game and after she said, “Thank you, dear. That was lovely. Next year, let’s do a National League game.”
Don’t mess with Brandon Belt
These are the moments I know I am the son of Elsa Freud. People who haven’t met her think she’s a female version of me which I admit is terrifying. One of my former editors here was scared out of his mind while meeting her which was hilarious as she’s a short, very quiet, extremely well-mannered lady who will only espouse her opinion when she feels comfortable, except when she doesn’t on very rare occasions.
As we caught up in person after both getting our COVID-19 shots – I flew back to watch the Giants take 3-of-4 in our ancient rivalry with the Miami Marlins in April – apparently, COVID-19 has not lessened the Mom’s quiet jab. She took on some baseball conversation while on line in a market with a gentleman shopper who noticed her Giants reusable bag. As the conversation turned to our first baseman, the man apparently called Brandon Belt, “Crazy.”
My mom grabs her grocery bag, looks at the man, says, “Not as crazy as you,” and leaves the shop.
In the future, if The San Francisco Chronicle runs a headline, “Giants fan sits on opinionated short woman,” that’s what happened.
The easy take on Freud family dynamics is that I am my father’s son. However, I am not where I am without Mom. She’s the one who told me, “Sit down. Shut up and watch the ball game,” when we attended Giants games at Candlestick in the late 70s and early 80s. This admonition was to inspire fear in me to ask for anything at the ball game, though, of course, mom always scored some pink popcorn or ice cream for me.
In retrospect, Mom didn’t heed her own advice and got louder as games proceeded. There was a reason Mom and Chris drank from different thermoses. Mine only had grapefruit juice in it. Yes, my temper is from Pop, but not without maternal inspiration.
Another early Mom moment had to have come during the 1977 or 1978 NLCS between the Dodgers and Phillies. She pointed at the team in blue and said, “We never root for that team.” Please remember that Elsa Doskow grew up Yankees, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Billy Martin and Whitey Ford. When my parents moved to San Francisco in 1968, she already disliked the Dodgers. That’s genetically encoded.
I’m definitely not adopted.
Look out, Pablo
A Giants World Series win didn’t sate her. When our third baseman was not playing to her standards during the 2012 postseason, Mom wanted him taken outside the stadium and shot. The good news is that Pablo Sandoval became only the fourth player in the history of World Series to homer three times in one game. Did we mention that Pablo went deep thrice in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series on Mom’s birthday? (Oct. 24) She’s had Pablo on a daily 24-hour stay since. (Tough grader, that one.)
And in the era of stat-driven baseball, exit velocity, FIP, WAR, OPS+ and all that, Mom remains wedded to the concept that starting pitching and defense still win championships. I find that this Mom dictum is just as valuable as all the helpful things she taught me on walking, reading and other life essentials.
I’m a sports writer because of my mom, not Pop. So as everyone else buys flowers and gets dressed for brunch, thanks, Mom, for everything. And enjoy the Giants-Padres this weekend.