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Jerry Zezima: The Curse of the Zezbino

Jerry Zezima, Tribune News Service on

Published in Lifestyles

I will never get into the National Baseball Hall of Fame unless I buy a ticket. That’s because my batting average in Little League was lower than my weight and my winning percentage as the manager of my daughters’ softball team was just as bad.

But even though mighty Jerry struck out countless times, memories of my misadventures on a field of screams came racing back like a fastball I could never hit when I took a recent tour of Fenway Park in Boston.

Fenway is the home of my favorite team, the Red Sox. Opened in 1912, it’s the oldest ballpark in the major leagues and features the game’s most iconic structure, the 37-foot-tall left field wall called the Green Monster.

“It’s pronounced Monstah,” said Dave, our tour guide. “In Boston, there are only 25 letters in the alphabet. There’s no R.”

Naturally, he pronounced it “Ah.”

Dave regaled the group with stories, including “The Curse of the Bambino,” wherein the Sox, who won five World Series titles between 1903 and 1918, sold their star player, Babe Ruth, to the New York Yankees, beginning a championship drought of 86 years that was finally broken in 2004.

 

As Dave spoke, I thought back to my pathetic athletic career, which should be dubbed “The Curse of the Zezbino.”

It began in Little League, where I was the worst player on a bad team. One year I didn’t get a hit, although I was almost hit by a pitch when I squared around to bunt. Instead of putting my left foot on the outer edge of the batter’s box, as a right-handed hitter is supposed to do when bunting, I put my right foot on the other side of home plate. The ball whizzed past my ear.

“You could have been hit in the head!” the umpire shrieked.

“Then we would have needed a new ball,” the opposing catcher said.

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