My father, Paul Rothman, was always busy working so when he offered to take me to my first baseball game, I was so excited. I was about 7 years old. He knew nothing about baseball, but I had started playing Little League and he knew how much I liked it.
At that time, he must have owned Paul’s Sweet Shop in Hackensack, New Jersey. He would have had to arrange with my mother to take the day off since the store was open seven days a week. That would have been a burden on her to manage the store by herself, but obviously, she agreed to do it to let him spend the day with me.
I don’t remember how we got to New York, but my guess is that my father drove us. He liked to drive and drove everywhere. He was taking me to see my favorite team, the Yankees. However, I can’t remember who they played against that day.
We sat in the “cheap” seats in the bleachers as this was an expensive day for my father. In 1951, the price for a ticket to a Yankee game was $1.04 plus $.21 tax. The bleacher seats went for $.50 plus $.10 tax, a real bargain. Parking was $1. Just paying for the gas, tolls, tickets, and parking made it an expensive day. He brought just enough money to pay for all of that. He did not think to bring extra pocket change. Of course, being a little boy, I did not understand the sacrifice he was making.
All I remember about the day was that it was very hot out. I got very thirsty, and I begged and begged for a cool drink. My father did not know what to do. He kept shushing me, but I kept begging and begging.
Having never been to a baseball game before, my father finally flagged down the first vendor he saw hawking cold drinks. He fished in his pockets for change and gave the man all the change he could find for 2 drinks. The two drinks cost about $.70. He paid the money and the vendor walked away and continued to hawk for more business. I took one sip and made a face. My father took a sip and immediately realized it was not cold soda, but beer. Neither one of us liked it and the drinks got thrown away. My father had used up all his money, so he had no way to get me another drink.
Instead of enjoying the game, I cried and whined the rest of the time about how thirsty I was. However, we did stay until the end.
This is not a good memory of a nice gesture. I wish I could go back and change the outcome, but I do remember how special it was that my father had offered to take me to a game.