between my father’s Spanish-speaking side of the family and my East Baltimore mother’s Italian army and friends, which happened to include the pair who would become my “real” parents.
But, once sober (and that was rare, believe me), everyone agreed (for the most part) that I was in a very advantageous situation: two grieving, sober, loving people in Dundalk who would fight to their death to make a better life for this adopted little boy after they lost their own child in a horrible drowning accident in 1969.
The Aparicio thing has always been in my life and it’s funny how my feelings about it have changed over the years.
It made me a celebrity on the Little League circuit and it always made for interesting conversation on the No. 22 bus when we talked baseball with strangers, which we almost always did. Any fan of baseball was considered a friend to my Pop and I on a game night.
But for the most part, being with my grandfatherly aged Pop and trying to explain how we were “related” and how the whole “Aparicio-relation” thing worked was usually more trouble than it was worth.
Who cares, right?
Yes, I’m related, but it’s a very distant relationship. We’ve seen each other on many occasions in my life — especially once I became ingrained in the national baseball media events — All Star Games, Super Bowls, Oriole reunion occasions in Baltimore, baseball card shows, that sort of thing.
But because of baseball and what I’ve done for a living, it’s a question I’ll probably answer until I die or until baseball becomes so insignificant that the name APARICIO has no recognizable quality.
My two best memories of Luis Aparicio came when I was a young person. First, I absolutely remember meeting him for the first time in the tunnel of Memorial Stadium near the Hit And Run Club in the summer of 1973 when he presented me with a baseball signed by the Boston Red Sox. (It’s the main picture on this blog.) I still have the faded ball. All of the names on the ball were signed in light blue, and Luis signed his name in black. Carl Yastremski. Carlton Fisk. Orlando Cepeda. Luis Tiant. Dwight Evans. A young Cecil Cooper. The team had some serious star power — that’s four Hall of Famers, three in their twilight, plus some other long-term major leaguers, but no Fred Lynn or Jim Rice — they weren’t up just yet!
It’s probably my first real memory of going to an Orioles game at Memorial Stadium. I distinctly remember walking into the stadium and hearing the voice — which I believe was Rex Barney — say, “For the Boston Red Sox, batting first, the shortstop, number 11,