I can’t get away from all this mess going on at the Donald Trump rallies. My problem is I’ve been through this movie before.
I was discharged in 1968 from the Air Force after serving a year in South East Asia with the 33rd Fighter Squadron, part of the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron. We flew the F4-C ‘Wild Wiesel’s and was commanded by “Triple Aces” Colonel Chappie James and Robin Olds.
I was discharged in San Francisco, given three shots for the social diseases I came home with, was handed $4,000 back combat/discharge pay, was told that I could buy something called a McDonalds franchise for $2,500 down, and showed the gate after three squares and a wake up.
Me and a couple of the guy I was discharged with decided to burn our uniforms and head down to a district of San Francisco that we were told that we could buy some cheap clothes and blend into the locals until we got our stateside legs on and our hair grew back in. It was called Haight-Ashbury.
At the same time, the Mets were in ninth place in a ten place National League. The only team they would wind beating that year was the same team they came into the year with in 1962, Houston.
But this team was far from my father’s Mets back when Casey Stengel first took the field with a team worth of aging rejects no one else wanted.
No, this team had youth. Pitching wise, a 23-year old Tom Seaver, a 24-year old Jerry Koosman , and a 21-year old Nolan Ryan.
Field wise, they had a 25-year old outfielder named Cleon Jones, a 25-year old catcher named Jerry Grote, a 24-year old shortstop named Bud Harrelson, and a 24-year old outfielder named Ron Swoboda.
But the team we would come to love when the ticker tape parade was thrown down Fifth Avenue was just beginning to form. 24-year old Ed Kranepool would arrive in 1968. So would Donn Clendenon via a trade. And a 25-year old Jim McAndrew and 24-year old Tug McGraw would round out the pitching staff. Talent. Youth. Have you heard this recently?
It’s funny how my life has developed over the years. I was anti-war when I returned from Saigon and joined John Kerry’s Vietnam Vets Against the War movement. Now, forty plus years later, I seem to be watching the same youth verses retiree, white vs. black movements, but my primary vote went to Donald Trump.
The one constant was my love for the Mets though at that point I was more interested where my next bowl was going to come from.