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Friday, May 6, 2011

Mom, baseball, and apple pie

Mom and my stepdad Lawrence,  at my brother 's house,  the year before she passed away.
My mom Edith loved the Cincinnati Reds. She watched them play every chance she got on our little 19-inch color television. Cable television had yet to be invented and all of the games weren't broadcast on our local channels 3, 8 and 13. So, she would plug in the radio and tune into the AM station as clearly as she could. It usually sat on the back of the sofa, because that is where it got the best reception. She and my stepfather would sit in their not-too-big upholstered rockers and listen intently to the play-by-play given by Joe Nuxhall, a former Reds pitcher, and the "voice of the Cincinnati Reds", Marty Brennaman.

image by lethal_lane at photobucket

The most excited I think I ever saw my mother was during the 1975 and 1976 World Series games, when "The Big Red Machine" won both championships back-to-back. Beginning in 1970, rookie manager Sparky Anderson led "The Great Eight" to five NL Western Division titles, four National League pennants and the two World Series championships. They racked up records by the fistfuls. And in the 1977 and 1978 seasons, they finished in second place in the World Series. No wonder she loved them.

The roster was a dream team:  Johnny Bench, who is heralded as the greatest catcher of all time, and at one time held the record for most home runs by a catcher, never played for any other ML team but his hometown Reds; Pete Rose, also a Cincinnati native, nicknamed Charlie Hustle, played third base and was a switch hitter and a hitting machine (thankfully, Mom never had to find out about his gambling disgrace); Tony Perez was on first base, Joe Morgan on second, and Dave Concepcion as shortstop. In the outfield were George Foster, left field;  Cesar Geronimo, center; and Ken Griffey (Sr.) in right field. My mom loved every one of them and talked about them as if she knew each one personally, but she really had a crush on Johnny Bench.

Johnny was always a gentleman, on the field and off. He looked like the all-American boy-next-door. And he had a local connection. One of our neighbors had a daughter who happened to be roommates with Johnny's sister, whose name I can't remember. Mom loved to hear Diane's stories about the parties that she and the sister attended with Johnny and the other guys. I think Diane secretly hoped Johnny would ask her to marry him, but I think Johnny thought of her as his other little sister. Mom would have been so proud of Johnny when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 in his first year of eligibility, but sadly, in 1987, she died of a heart attack and didn't get to see him achieve this goal.

One of my biggest regrets is that Mom never got to attend a Reds game in person. She would have been a little scared to be out of her element, but a lot more excited to be near her beloved team. If I had only known how short our time with her would be, I would have made sure she got to see them play at least once. This Mother's Day will mark the 24th anniversary of her passing. I still miss her sweet voice and her pretty smile every day. To celebrate, I think I will tune in and see if the Reds are playing. With 23 channels showing nothing but sports, surely I will be able to find one with the Cincinnati Redlegs. Mom would have been in seventh heaven.

image taken from Food Network site, but it looks a lot like Mom's


Mom's Apple Pie

8 cups Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
1 10-inch double pie crust

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In large bowl, toss together the apples and the next 7 ingredients, granulated sugar through lemon juice. 

Line deep-dish 10-inch pie plate or pan with bottom crust. Place the apple mixture in the crust and dot with the cut-up butter. Cover with second crust and crimp edges.  Cut an A for apple in the center.

Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. If the edges of the crust are getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil strips.

Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream while it's still warm and watch your favorite baseball team while you scrape your plate and lick your lips.




39 comments:

Judy said...

You forgot about Joe Nucsol......which I don't know how his name is spelled, he was one of the announcers. Also he used to play for the reds. i can still see them guys all playing. it is no wonder Mom loved them so much, they were wonders!

Judy said...

Joe Nuxhall is the correct name

Susan said...

Judy, I knew that wasn't quite right. Thank you for reminding me about Joe. He was the main announcer Mom would have heard, since Marty didn't start until 1974, but Marty was there for the '75 and '76 seasons. His famous line was "And this one belongs to the Reds!". Joe's famous line was "Rounding third and heading for home!"

Sandy Nawrot said...

What a beautiful tribute you your mom. I love that picture of her and your step dad...they look very happy. I also find it precious that she was so into the Reds. Happy Mother's Day to you Susan!

Wanda..... said...

Susan...I have the same memories. My parents both worked for Nutone in Cincinnati. Mother and dad were fans of The Big Red Machine too! They took my sons to their first baseball game during that famous period.

Sorry for the long ago loss of your mother, mine passed 4 years ago this June 4th.

Oliag said...

My favorite Mother's day gift from my two girls was tickets to Fenway Park for the whole family to watch the Red Sox:) My mother on the other hand hated baseball probably because my father loved it so much:) Love this tribute to your mom Susan...She has a beautiful face...and a wonderful apple pie recipe!

ds said...

Love this tribute, Susan! Your mom and stepdad look so happy; I am sorry for her untimely loss.
Baseball in the 70's was something, wasn't it? The only true fan in our house was my grandmother, who early on cast her affections to the Mets (the Giants had left for SF). She got to see them win two World Series, just before your Reds sprang into action...baseball and memory, what a trigger.
Apple pie sounds yum. Bet your mom's was the greatest.
Happy Mother's Day to you!!!

Cora said...

Beautiful photo of your Mom... My Mother-n-law is a huge Braves fan, luckly she was able to go see them play in Atlanta years ago.
Apple pie...Oh my...love it!

I know you miss your Mom something awful and with her sweet memories you can have a wonderful Mothers Day yourself as you smile thinking of her...
I hope you have a great weekend!

steviewren said...

Beautiful tribute to your mother and her love of the Reds. Sorry she isn't here to enjoy this mother's day with you.

Judy said...

Susie, i always enjoy reading your stories especially about our families. You have such a talent for writing them, I am sorry our Mom isn't here for Mother's Day cause she was a wonderful one, and thank you for writing about her. I hope you have a Happy Mother's Day too. Love you

Judy said...

I know I am rambling !!! lol

culdesacchronicles said...

Well, I hope you're happy. I have a lump in my throat and my eyes are full. This was lovely. You did your mother proud.

I'm so glad you posted that recipe. You have no idea. I used to try to make apple pies with golden delicious apples, but they were always to watery. The first thing I did was check the amount of flour in this recipe. No wonder I had such a runny pie. I was only putting a couple of table spoons in mine. Next time I use golden delicious, I'm trying this recipe. Thanks and I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow.

Barb said...

I think of my Mom every day, too - and she loved baseball! (The Philadelphia Phillies) The pie sounds scrumptious.

stacybuckeye said...

What a lovely tribute to your mother. It's so nice to remember her in a special way on Mother's Day.

Ruth said...

Oh Susie! What a lot of memories for you today on this anniversary. This is a beautiful stadium of them in your post about baseball and apple pie. I have so many great ones of my own with my dad and mom too. Whenever my dad would complain about the Detroit Tigers, my mom would chide him for being "unfaithful." We had Sparky Anderson too for a while!

The apple pie looks fantastic. I think I'll mix brown sugar in mine next time, something I haven't tried but sounds yummy.

Lots of love to you, my sister of the heart, on this Mother's Day!

Susan said...

Sandy, thank you and Happy Mother's Day to you, too!

Mom always had a smile on her face and she always looked at the glass as half-full. She always made us feel loved and secure, even when there wasn't much to make us feel secure. She was a gem.

Susan said...

Wanda, I suspected that your family members were Reds fans! :) I don't know why it never occurred to me to take my mom to a game. She would have absolutely loved it. I guess I was too busy with babies to think about those kinds of things. If only we could go back and do all the things we wish we had done to make our loved ones happier. Life just doesn't work that way though, does it?

I hope you are surrounded with love on this Mother's Day!

Susan said...

Oliag, I can just imagine how excited you were to attend that game with your girls! And on Mother's Day! I'm not much of a sports fan, so I can identify with your mother. I did get pretty excited about those back-to-back world series wins, though.

Susan said...

ds, you are correct...my mom was the greatest! She taught me everything I know about being a good mother myself, especially to my adult children. Be supportive and loving, but mind your own business! There's only one philosophy of hers that I can't follow..."I raised my children, now you raise yours." She was not one who you lightly asked to babysit if you wanted to go out for the evening or to go shopping. It had to be a real need. Not that she didn't love her grandchildren, she just didn't have the energy for taking care of young'uns! :)

Susan said...

Cora, what sweet words you write to me! Every time I roll out a pie crust, I think of my mother. She taught me how to do it just right so that it doesn't fall apart when you put it in the dish. She would have pie-baking marathons in her small kitchen, rolling out crust after crust on her 50's-era table. Then we would fill them with apples, blackberries, peaches...whatever was in season, and then put them in the freezer so she could pull one out and stick it in the oven if unexpected guests came around.

I hope your Mother's Day is filled with love!

Susan said...

Thank you, steviewren. It was a joyful piece to write. I hope you are surrounded by love on this Mother's Day! :)

Susan said...

Sister, you can ramble all you want here! :) We did have a wonderful mother, always supportive and loving, and not getting "all up in our bidness". My goodness, if she were still here, she would have been 97!

Happy Mother's Day to my sweet sister! I love you.

Susan said...

Barb, I don't think we ever stop missing our mothers. I'm surprised there are so many baseball fans among our mothers represented here.

I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day!

Susan said...

Stacy, my mom had so many cute little things about her that made her "mom". I hope you have a beautiful Mother's Day with little Gage!

Susan said...

Oh, Bella, I'm sorry I skipped over you! Happy Mother's Day, dear! I'm glad you were touched by what I wrote. Mom would be surprised to know her little story evoked emotion in someone she didn't even know. :)

After I looked at that recipe, I realized that is a LOT of sugar. If I made it now, I would probably cut those portions by half. I may have to make one right away and test that theory. I always like to use a mixture of apples in my pies...golden delicious, granny smith, winesap...but mom was a big fan of the goldens, probably because there weren't that many to choose from in the grocery at that time.

Susan said...

Yes, Ruthie, May is awash in memories, both wonderful and not-so-much. The good ones are starting to outweigh the bad ones though, for which I am very grateful.

Isn't it nice that we have another connection? In the name of Sparky Anderson, no less! Sparky finished out his career with the Tigers, I believe. The only manager to ever win 100 games with two different teams. He just passed away last November at a fairly young age of 76. He always looked older when he was with the Reds because of his prematurely gray hair. He was only 35 when he became their manager. There! Way more than you wanted to know about Sparky! LOL

Much love and good wishes for you on this Mother's Day, my dear sisterfriend!

Jeanie said...

What a wonderful "picture" of your mom I have from this portrait. Don't you love someone with a passion for something -- almost doesn't matter what, but to love something so much they won't miss it! She sounds wonderful. And that pie recipe sounds terrific, too! Thanks!

The Bumbles said...

Sounds like your mom and I would have been fast friends. Just last week I came home and had a big slab of cherry pie for dinner while settling in to watch the Red Sox win. I do so love the sound of baseball on the radio though. I have done lots of crazy things to pick up a fading radio signal in order to keep track of the Sox. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Dutchbaby said...

When my husband was a little boy in Houston, his parents used to get him to bed on time by allowing him to listen to the game on the radio while he fell asleep. His grandma in New Orleans used to tell him that she would be listening to exactly the same game at the same time.

I would have loved to have hung out with your mother. I would have been right next to her in '75 and '76 rooting against the Red Sox and Yankees. I wonder if any other team could claim to have robbed the World Series title from both these institutions?

I remember watching the Reds beat the Giants on many occasions at Candlestick Park. Not last year though - oh, did I mention that the Giants won the World Series?

Susan said...

Jeanie, obviously this is just one small piece of the jigsaw puzzle of her life, but one of the parts that always makes me smile when I think about it.

Susan said...

Molly, I'm sure that you and Mom would have gotten along like a house on fire! There's just something about baseball play-by-play on the radio. You have to use your imagination and there's no instant replay to see if the ump was right. You could go to the grave swearing that he made a bad call making your team lose the game!

Susan said...

Dutchbaby, what a sweet picture of your hubby and his grandma staying in touch over the miles by way of baseball on the radio. Someone should write that up for a Hallmark commercial!

I'm not sure if the Reds hold the record on that one, but I'd say there's a fair chance they do. I think I recall you mentioning a time or two about the Giants' world series win! :D

Char said...

what a beautiful tribute to your mother. baseball and apple pie. it makes me warm and a bit teary...i guess as we all are about our mothers.

California Girl said...

Man that apple pie looks good!

I also loved the Reds. I am a born and raised Dodger fan but The Big Red Machine held my heart in the Seventies. My husband and I lived in KY while he attended grad school @ UK and we never missed a chance to drive up for a game at the old & notoriously dizzying Riverfront Stadium. I say "dizzying" because we could only afford nose bleed seats and that stadium was straight up in the air.

Love the new stadium now. We visited a few yrs ago, as you know. Our friends in Ft. Mitchell took us to a, what else, Dodger/Reds game. It was Torre's first year managing the Dodgers. I was so excited. The prices are still reasonable unlike Fenway and other ridiculously priced ball parks. The Great American Field is awesome. We sat field level this time. Age has its rewards.

Deborah said...

I'm astonished at your memory for things, but not at all about your ability to weave a story out of baseball and beloved moms. Susie, Susie, I hate to use the word 'should' but dang, you're a good writer and you should/could/would be great at writing the kind of novel that is full of the kind of rich detail that makes 'ordinary' lives compelling. You've got your finger on the pulse of life.

Deborah said...

..and I'm sorry I didn't get to this sooner - I saw it after you posted, then went away for a while and forgot about it until I was almost asleep last night.

Susan said...

Char, it doesn't take much to get me teared up over sentimental things. My mother was my idol, and a saint if there ever was one. I think you must feel the same way about your mom. :)

Susan said...

Debbie, I think you're just a baseball fan, no matter who is playing! I can see you getting into the Reds when you lived in KY. It was pretty hard not to be, I'm thinking. :) You probably would have been run out of Lexington!

I've heard that Riverfront was quite the challenge. I would never have made it there with my vertigo. I haven't been to the new stadium either, but I hope to take my grandsons there someday. We have a pretty great AAA team in Columbus...the Columbus Clippers, who won the Triple-A Championship last year. They just opened a fantastic new park downtown. Gotta get down there with the boys!

Susan said...

Well, Deb, it's taken me a while to get around to this! Geez, ya think?!!!

I bask in the sunlight of your most generous compliments, dear friend, but as you can see by my lameness in the blogging world here of late, there's no way I would ever stick to writing a whole book! The internet has made me ADD, I'm pretty sure. You, on the other hand, are perfect for writing the Great American Novel (and I AM including all of North America in that statement). So, I will eagerly await a rich novel from you in the coming years. No Spider Solitaire for you!!! ;-)