A Streaker’s Profound Message (#2)

It’s a thing, apparently, to take the field at Toronto’s Rogers Centre in your unmentionables, with a message painted across your chest, when the Boston Red Sox are in town. I don’t know; kids are stupid.

I preferred the YOLO fellow. He was saying, “I’m going to streak because I must streak.” This guy’s saying “I’m going to streak so I can get caught, arrested, have my picture taken by a professional photographer, go to jail for a bit, maybe, and then have a stupendously handsome writer document my experience on the Internet.”

He’s trying too hard. What happened to spontaneity? I’d never streak — as I’ve mentioned in these electronic pages, I don’t get it. But I do understand that, sometimes, one must take the field. You think the guy who went to Friday night’s historic New York Mets game at Citi Field in jean shorts and a Gary Carter jersey had a master plan to storm the field? Hell no. But Johan Santana had just thrown the first no-hitter in Metropolitans history, and, well, it had to be done. If I were to do it, I imagine that’s exactly how it’s done. Minus the jean shorts.

Were the folks in Washington, D.C. always going to take the field in the late innings at Kennedy Stadium, on a Thursday night, September 30, 1971, before their Senators left town for good? We’ll never know. But, today, more than 40 years later, it sure seems like they made the right call. In a way, the Senators went out on their — the fans’s — terms. And I choose to believe it was a spur of the moment decision.

It was four-run inning that tied the score for the Senators at 5-5, and in the eighth they went in front, 7-5, but now, oddly, the temper of the crowd was changing. As if in sudden awareness that the end of major-league baseball in Washington was only one inning way, the mood hardened. “We want Bob Short!” was the cry that picked up in loud and angry chorus, and it was the baying-fury sound of a lynch mob.

Then a swarm of young kids, squirts who wouldn’t know what it had meant to have a big-league team all these years, or what it would mean to lose one, flooded onto the field from all points of the stands. A public address announcement warned that the home team could forfeit the game unless the field was cleared, and pretty soon the game resumed.

It got as far as two out in the ninth, the Senators’ 7-5 lead intact, no Yankee on base, when one young rebel from the stands set off again. He grabbed first base and ran off with it. Some unbelievers, undaunted by the warning of forfeit, cheered, and from out of the stands poured hundreds, maybe a couple of thousand fans. They took over the infield, the outfield, grabbed off every base as a souvenir, tried to get the numbers and lights from the scoreboard or anything else removable, and by their numbers left police and the four umpires helpless to intervene.

The mad scene on the field, with the athletes of both teams taking refuge in their dugouts, brought official announcement of Yankees 9, Senators 0, baseball’s traditional forfeit count almost since Abner Doubleday notched the first baseball score on the handiest twig at Cooperstown. But by then the crowd-mood was philosophical, “So what?” Or more accurately, “So whatha hell?” The Senators were finished, even if the ball game wasn’t.

Kids had purpose back then. “Sorry Mom” and a pair of Sesame Street boxers? The future is bleak.

Image credit: That’s a Getty number, via Daylife.

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Navin Vaswani is a replacement-level writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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What does it say about you that you looked closely enough to figure out what kind of boxers he was wearing?

Adrastus Perkins
Adrastus Perkins

That he has an eye for detail?


That Shirley Povich article, dated Oct 1, 1971, just made my day. Thank you.