My name is John Anthony Francis Hubbuch. My grandfather's name was John Anthony Francis Hubbuch. In addition to our names, we shared a love for baseball.
For a couple of wonderful summers in the late 1950s I would go over to Pop Hubbuch's house almost every morning. He was in his seventies and I was ten or so. We would sit in his kitchen and go over the baseball scores in Louisville Courier-Journal while drinking coffee in the kitchen. (He'd let me drink coffee while Mom Hubbuch wasn't looking. Extra cream. Extra sugar).
We would talk about Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn and Hank Aaron on his favorite team the Milwaukee Braves. We hated the Yankees with Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. We were ecstatic in 1957 when the Braves beat the Yankees for the World Series Championship.
Pop Hubbuch would tell me stories about how he got into a game for free when he was a little boy because Pie Traynor let him carry his bat into the baseball park. He told me how Babe Ruth would hit as many balls out of the park in batting practice as he could because the kids outside the park got in free if they returned the ball.
One summer morning seamlessly fed into the next. Wins and losses. Heroism and failure side by side. Day after day. I thought it would never end. But Mom Hubbuch died and Pop died six months later. I knew he would. He was so sad and lonely. Even baseball couldn't save him from his grief.
Recently we learned that baseball superstars Jason Giambi and Ken Camminiti both took steroids the years they won their MVP. Barry Bonds admitted he "inadvertently" took steroids thinking it was flaxseed oil. Right. He gained 50 pounds and morphed into a giant and hit 73 home runs when previously he never hit 50. In fact, everyone since Roger Maris who hit more than 60 home runs was probably on steroids?#34;McGuire, Bonds, Sosa.
Who knows how many took the juice for how long. The fans, the union, the players and the owners all share the shame. We all knew it, but as long as the homers kept flying out we didn't care. It was just like World Federation Wrestling. It's fake, but it's fun to pretend.
When my sons have children I wonder if they will come over to my house and we can talk about baseball and the heroic feats of the immortals like Bonds, Sosa and McGuire like Pop Hubbuch did with me?#34;Musial, Williams and Aaron. I doubt it. What could I say to them.
Sometimes when I think about Pop Hubbuch and baseball I can almost hear him. He's crying.