“The 7 Questions” is a new sports questionnaire — the Eephus way of catching a snapshot of the fan’s life. From writers to artists and beyond, we bring you answers every Monday morning.
Today, we get the answers from the novelist Bruce Bauman. Bruce is the author of And the Word Was, and most recently, Broken Sleep. He is also one of those rare New Yorkers with an allegiance to both the Yankees and Mets, and a contributor to Eephus.
1. When was the last time sports made you cry?
About 16 years ago I got elbowed in the nose by a guy who outweighed me by 100 pounds and was six inches taller going for a rebound. Broke my nose, and wow, that hurt. We weren’t really friends, just hoop buddies. But he was the sweetest guy, and we’d been playing for years. As the blood and cartilage poured out, he was as teary-eyed as I—for different reasons—and he also said “Damn, Bruce, why were you trying to get a rebound?” My full-court career ended after that night.
OK, I think this might piss people off, but if a sports event made me cry now, I’d have to rethink my life priorities. I feel much closer to crying when I hear about the post-pro lives and suicides of people like Junior Seau or Dave Duerson. Or when I think of the young Dwight Gooden—I saw him pitch four times in 1985-86—and think of the life he’s had instead of the one so many of us once imagined for him.
I do scream a lot at the TV though.
2. What’s your most treasured piece of sports apparel or memorabilia?
That’s a tough one. I have my ticket stub from Reggie’s three home runs on three pitches in the ’77 World Series game against the Dodgers. We won the tickets in the lottery and sat in the top row in the grandstand. It was fucking freezing.
I keep my ticket on my desk from Game 6 at Yankee Stadium, the clincher of 1996 World Series. A field box seat this time when a friend’s father couldn’t go (a friend who had been with me at the Reggie game and unlike me, had become financially successful). Oddly, what I remember most about that game is the grin on Darryl Strawberry’s face as the team charged the mound as the game ended.
I have a program from the Affirmed-Alydar Belmont Stakes Triple Crown race—not my betting ticket. I lost. I’d bet on Alydar. But what a race!
But I think it’s my 1986 Mets World Series hat, beat up as it is that may be number one—I won it in a poker game a day after a wedding party when I was still damn drunk—and I am usually a terrible, and I mean terrible, card player.
3. Competed in any sports lately, at any level?
I play doubles tennis at least once a week. Recently I played with two 30-year-olds. What I call tennis, they call lob ball.
Is trying to get our new puppy to play fetch a sport? So far I’m doing the throwing and the fetching.
4. What’s your desert island sports movie or book?
Novel: Don DeLillo’s End Zone.
In between fiction and non-fiction: A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley.
Non-fiction: Whew. I’ll go with Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, not because it’s a great book, but because I read it as a kid and I laughed out loud so many times and that memory counts big time.
Movie: Hoosiers—I’m taking it with me and burying it so no one has to be subjected to that sappy shit ever again. It reminds me of It’s A Wonderful Life—a movie I’ve come to despise as the worst kind of propaganda. At least Hoosiers has the great Gene Hackman and Barbara Seagull, oops, I mean Hershey. The movie that needs to be made, and the one I’m taking with me to watch, would about about Oscar Roberston’s Crispus Attucks team that lost in the quarterfinals when he was a sophomore, then won the state championship two years in a row—the first all black team in the country do so and then went 31-0 in the Big O’s senior year.
5. What do you like to eat and drink while you watch sports?
If it’s a normal game, junk food—popcorn, pizza, Coke. Beer. Any kind of chocolate.
If it’s serious game with my team in it—often nothing. I’m too nervous.
6. What’s the greatest length you’ve gone to watch or attend a game?
I paid a nice penalty fee to change a flight so I could get home in time to watch the Giants 2007 Super Bowl. It was worth every penny.
7. Ever caught a foul ball?
Twice. At the same freezing cold late April Mets game in the late ’70s when they were amazin’ly awful but without Casey Stengel and Jimmy Breslin to immortalize them. “Catch” is the wrong word. There was almost no one sitting around my friend and I—there were more people at my Bar Mitzvah than at that game. Both balls landed a coupla empty rows away. I picked them up and my friend agreed with me, so each time we gave them to two young kids who came scrambling over.