My Lovely Bride
In 1949 I happened to be playing in the Sally League in Greenville, South Carolina and one day I look into the stands and I see this beautiful girl. I happened to know the girl who was sitting next to her, and her name was Margaret Goldsmith who sold tickets at the local movie theater.
I asked Margaret what that girl’s name was and she said Joan Miller.
I told Margaret to ask her if she would go out with me. She whispered in her ear and she shook her head, no.
I told Margaret to ask her if she’d give me her phone number. Again she whispers in her ear and again she shook her head, no.
So finally I called Margaret down to the end of the stands and asked her to do me a favor and see if she could delay that beautiful girl and give me a chance to come out and meet her.
So in the ninth inning I was sitting at the end of the bench with my cleats untied and my jersey unbuttoned, and when the third out was made I was in the clubhouse, in the shower, out of the shower putting my clothes on and in the parking lot and they were still there.
Margaret had deliberately left her sweater on the seat, so she had to go all the way back to get the sweater which gave me enough time to shower and get out there.
I met Jo’s mother, her sister, her brother-in-law and her other sister and her husband. I told her mother that I would be a twenty-game winner if I was dating her daughter.
I found out where Jo worked and I called her to ask her out. She said no.
I called about 10 times and each time Jo would say no. On the 11th time I said, “Look, I know I’m no movie star but I’m not that bad either.”
I continued, “Just go out with me once and if you don’t like me after that, fine, I won’t bother you any more.”
So she finally agreed to meet me for lunch. So we went to lunch and we took a booth and I sat across from her and I kept looking across at her. She was so beautiful and humble, and I said to her, “You might laugh, but I’m going to marry you.”
Well, she laughed.
One year later we married. Today, April 14th, 58 years ago.
I took that girl out of SC. We opened the season by playing an exhibition game in Baltimore. I took her home to meet my parents and my family. Then we opened the season in Springfield, Massachusetts. From there we went to New York to play in Jersey City. We stayed in Manhattan and saw a stage play. Then we went on to Montreal and that was the beginning of it.
I was making $500 a month, and I had to borrow $500 to get married. I went to Branch Rickey and told him I was getting married.
“Good, good,” he said as he loved it when players were married. He would really insist on it.
I told him I had saved some money in Panama but it was stolen and that I needed $500.
He told me to go see Buzzie Bavasi for the money, which I did. When I saw Buzzie I told him I needed $500 and that Mr. Rickey told me to see him.
“For what,” he barked, to which I told him I was getting married.
“How in the world are you getting married,” he yelled.
“Are you crazy asking me that,” he went on.
“$500, I can’t believe it,” he said trying to dissuade me.
So Buzzie lets me have the $500 and I bought a ring. I told him to deduct money from my pay checks, and when I got my first check nothing had been deducted. I told him to take $100 out per month.
He wanted to take it out when we got in the playoffs, but I told him I wanted it taken out right away, but he would never take it out.
So at the end of the season Buzzie put a letter before me and told me to sign. I asked him what it was and he told me it was a letter to Mr. Rickey thanking him for loaning me $500 and that I was glad I could pay it all back.
So every year on our anniversary, Buzzie would send Jo a bouquet of flowers with a note that reads, “Sorry.”
He figured it out, that with compounded interest I now owe him about $75,000.
But here we are celebrating today our 58th wedding anniversary. If I could have seen God and given him a description on a little piece of paper of what I was looking for in a wife he couldn’t have given me anyone finer than Jo.
She has stood by me through thick and thin, and I love her dearly. When times were tough she was there for me. When we were away from each other because of baseball she would always remind me that she and the children understood why I was away. She would always put my picture on the table while they were eating to remind them that I was away earning a living.
They said it would never work for a, Italian Catholic Yankee marrying a Southern Baptist, but they were wrong, and boy is I glad. She is the best, and I love her with all my heart.