On family, memory and 49-year-old peanuts

Hello again. It’s beginning to look like for the second year in a row I’m not going to get the chance to visit any new ballparks (although I will certainly keep you informed if anything changes), but I still feel compelled to post something every now and again. I was looking through the baseball stats and standings this morning and happened to notice that it was on this day in 1965 that Sandy Koufax pitched his perfect game, and the fourth overall no-hitter of his career. And that reminded me of a minor family mystery.

Sometime after my grandfather died but before grandma moved to Northern California (so, sometime between 2000 and 2005), she announced to me—somewhat out of left field, if I’m remembering correctly— that she still had a peanut pod from the day they’d been present when “Sandy Koufax threw his no-hitter”
——Being the pedantic fan that I am, I had to ask “which one?”
——To which she replied after a pause, “There was more than one?” She was a fan to the point that she wanted her Southern California teams to do well and enjoyed a night at the ballpark with family, but not much further than that.
——At that time I didn’t know that there had been four, but I did know there was more than one, which prompted me to do a little more research in the matter. Koufax pitched one no-no in each season from ’62-’65, ending the streak with a perfecto. When I told her this, she felt pretty sure they’d been at the perfect game, but because she wasn’t able to remember any details I could verify—the score, or the date, or opponent—I’ve always thought of it as our own family’s asterisk: My grandparents were in attendance for Sandy Koufax’s perfect game*.

It is with some sadness that I realize that had the question come up sometime when grandpa was still alive, he would have known—if nothing else—whether they’d been at the perfect game or one of the “imperfect” gems. If that had indeed been the game they’d seen, he probably would have also told me from memory that the opposing pitcher threw a hell of a game too, that the Dodgers only had one hit, and possibly even something about the defensive plays that preserved the string of outs.

Curiosity got the better of me this morning, and I decided to ask my mom what she remembers. She does remember her parents being excited about having just seen Koufax throwing a no-hitter. Moreover, she thinks she was in college at the time (only the perfect game in ’65 would fit that criterion) and she thinks it was a company night at the ballpark on a weeknight (of the four no-hitters, three were at Dodger Stadium and the two non-perfectos were both on Saturdays), both of which certainly lend credence to the claim that it was the perfect game they saw. Is it enough to remove that asterisk? Well, I’m not quite sure about that.†

But what has me the most confused as I think back on the whole thing is this: did she say she kept a peanut from that night at Chavez Ravene? Why a peanut? And why did I not think it worth asking that question when she was still alive? I probably would have kept a ticket stub or scorecard myself…


*or at least my grandmother thought they were.
†Because mom did have to emphasize that she thinks all this supporting evidence she’s giving is correct.

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