Driving Miss Liz “home” one last time

August 17, 2017 | Nestor Aparicio

us at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street when I was a kid. She didn’t go to Colts games. She always said: “That was for the men in those days.”

But I have some incredible memories with my Mom and the Orioles as a kid. In 1979, my Pop worked a Sunday shift and she took me to Memorial Stadium in early May. Instead of getting the crappy bleacher seats, my Mom splurged and we sat in the terrace box behind home plate watching Dennis Martinez toss a two-hit shutout to beat Frank Tanana and the California Angels. She was with me in September 1979 when the Orioles clinched the AL East. And she was also at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia for Game 5 when the Orioles beat the Phillies to win the 1983 World Series. She was also with my Pop at the 1966 World Series games against the Dodgers. My Pop and Mom attended their final Baltimore Colts game together in 1983 and saw Walter Payton play the day that Mike Ditka went nuts afterward.

As much as baseball was in my blood as an Aparicio (see Chapter 2 of Free The Birds book for that back story), my Mom also loved baseball. She met my Pop at a Washington Senators game at Griffith Stadium in the summer of 1944. They were married at Mount Carmel in Essex in July 1945 when he came from Scranton, Pennsylvania to work at Martin Marietta during the second World War (back when the American president still considered Nazis the enemy of the American people).

She and my Pop watched sports every night of their existence. It’s how he rolled back in the 1950s and 1960s. Orioles. Colts. Bullets. As I’ve mentioned many times, my favorite childhood memories with my Mom and Pop together were the WWWF wrestling matches at the Baltimore Civic Center. We were there on April 30, 1977 when Bruno Sammartino lost to Superstar Billy Graham. My Mom loved Bob Backlund and Ivan Putski.

Our house was the place where all of the neighborhood kids gathered for three generations. My parents didn’t have much but they had a lot of love and attention to give. My Pop famously coached and umpired Little League baseball at Colgate. My Mom was the lady who made the marshmallow treats for my many house parties where Shonda Brewer would bring her Chic and Queen 45s over for pre-MTV listening events. Bottles were spun. Bottles were consumed. Parents caught on. It was Dundalk – and my parents were the ones who camped out in line at the Hecht Company downtown for AC/DC tickets on the “For Those About To Rock” Tour.

I had cool parents.

They lost a child.

(I can’t imagine.)

Then…I came along.

My Mom answered the phone when Alex Van Halen, Jimmy Page and Geddy Lee all called my house to be interviewed when I was doing rock interviews in 1984 at The News American.

Some of that rock star rubbed off, I guess…

During my career, she’s had numerous opportunities to meet the many sports stars of my universe. I’m pretty sure she loved what I did for a living. She listened to my show faithfully every day of my career. She ALWAYS knew what I was doing by listening to the show.

“I’m just like everyone else, ” she once told me. “I listen to the show so I know where the heck you’re going next!”

She once got up on Joe Flacco at my event before the AFC Championship Game in January 2012 and said: “Just get the job done!” about 48 hours before he did everything but kick a field goal and catch the winning touchdown in New England when Billy Cundiff and Lee Evans happened to the Ravens.

She was with us for both of our “Heroes” events with Chuck Pagano and Brenda Frese two years ago and Brian Billick, John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin last year.

As a pretty complicated person myself, I had a great deal of respect for her simplicity and predictability. I really do think it’s how she made it nearly a century on the planet. She raised three different sets of families – including my maternal mom and her brother, who will be buried two feet away from her on Saturday. She’ll be rejoining my Pop at Gardens of Faith into eternity.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. You only get so many days on earth. She used many of those to selflessly care for me when I needed it the most from 1970 until my child entered the world in 1984. My son Barry owes her the same debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

But over the last quarter of a century of my life, it was my solemn goal to attempt to repay her by trying to make her comfortable and happy whenever I could.

Some days, it worked better than others but I stand proud of who she is and how posting silly pictures of her somehow touched you in some way. I hope you learned more about the cute, little old lady in the backseat now that she’s gone.

And we’d be honored if you want to