Time Out: July 30, 2014
He was a man without a country, a baseball fan decked out in the traditional orange and blue of the New York Mets enveloped in a sea of Atlanta Brave gray and red hearing “y’all” everywhere he turned. Styrofoam tomahawks bounced off his head and shoulders as thousands of Brave fans broke out in a chorus of their all to familiar tomahawk chop.
Margaretville’s “Dawg,” Randy VanKeuren, had become a weird mixture of North and South besieged in a world of Atlanta Brave southern charm sprinkled with pinstripe New York Yankee chutzpah. It was not an ideal place for a New York Met fan to be. But, then again, why would a Met fan dress in Met regalia at a Hall of Fame induction ceremony honoring three legendary Atlanta Brave baseball heroes and Yankee managing great Joe Torre? That’s our “Dawg.”
The third largest crowd to ever assemble for a Hall of Fame Induction ceremony gathered in Cooperstown on Sunday, a crowd estimated at over 48,000 including one baseball contrarian, Randy VanKeuren.
The “Dawg” was on hand as Atlanta pitching greats, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux joined the legion of baseball’s greatest stars inducted into the Hall. Glavine, a homegrown Brave, won 305 games, fourth all-time among left-handed pitchers. Glavine pitched 17 of his 22 major league’s years in Atlanta, pitching the other five seasons for Dawg’s New York Mets.
Maddux, who started his career pitching for the Chicago Cubs and was later acquired as a free agent by Atlanta, ranks eighth on the all-time major league pitching win list with 355 career victories, the most by a pitcher since Warren Spahn’s 363. Spahn retired in 1965.
Glavine and Maddux were the first set of first-ballot pitchers to earn entry into the Hall since Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson gained entry in the first ever Hall of Fame class in 1936, making Sunday a rare and special baseball day.
But, sadly, for our “Dawg” many of the Glavine and Maddux’s wins came against VanKeuren’s beloved Mets.
The Big Hurt
Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas was also selected to enter the Hall along with three of baseball’s managing greats: the Yankee’s Joe Torre, the Brave’s Bobby Cox, and the Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinal’s Tony LaRussa.
For baseball fanatics, especially those from Atlanta, Sunday’s day with small town America and baseball’s greatest was a national pastime high. For Margaretville’s “Dawg,” Sunday was a chance to witness baseball history amidst an out-of-town crowd while still showing his allegiance to his orange and blue.
Patience and persistence and a hint of his New York Met orneriness did pay off for the Dawg. As he maneuvered his vehicle to find his way through the baseball throng, a tall man was spotted signing autographs.
Darryl Strawberry! The all-time Met home run leader was amiably chatting with passersby. Few would believe that the “Dawg” could exit a car and reach a desired location so quickly, but never underestimate a determined Met fan.