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The password is.... "persiflage." - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
The password is.... "persiflage."
You may have gleaned my affection for baseball in general, and the Mets in particular, from reading these pages. But one of the most lasting moments in that baseball education came, not during their only two triumphant years (1969 and 1986), but from the season of their only World Series appearance in between, in 1973. They lost in seven games to the Oakland A's,  but that series didn't provide the moment.  Nor did the League Championship series against the mighty Big Red Machine, which had amazin' moments of its own, but not this one.

No, this was one where a single word encapsulated an entire month. Thanks to Greg Prince's first volume of Happiest Recap summaries of the greatest wins in Met history, I can identify August 31st as the day when the Mets crawled out of the bottom- rising all the way to fifth place in a six-team division. A month of stellar play (and some relative suckage from their competition) brought them to their first-ever regular season October game, a scheduled doubleheader, with the division title on the line.

Here's what I remembered before today, without resort to the book: 

* the Mets' then had two still-eligible rivals: Pittsburgh could only win if the Mets lost both games in Chicago and the Bucs won their last-minute makeup game; meanwhile, three losses from both teams would put St. Louis magically back into the mix.

* fortunately, it was Meet the Moots after Tom Seaver and Tug McGraw combined to beat the Cubbies in the first game, calling off the second game in Chicago and the suddenly meaningless contest in the 'Burg.  The Mets were division winners!

I must've watched it, but it's the post-game radio I remember vividly.  Probably because I had a tape recorder on my Longines Symphonette clock radio-

(yup, that's it, thanks, eBay:)- to capture the audio of those magical moments for years to come.  I played back those words over and over in the coming days, but not just the play-by-play of the final moments, but the ensuing commentary of one Bill Mazer, host of the team's Mets Wrapup, its flagship radio station's post-game show.

I knew Mazer well from various tv and radio gigs, but these were the moments in which his talent, and pure love of the game and his team- my team- came out in shiny glory.  Among his utterances was one that stuck with me then and has ever since. After getting word of the final-day-of-season firing of longtime Met nemesis manager Leo Durocher, and of his replacement by a journeyman manager named Preston Gomez, Mazer referred to him as the "traveling Cuban," tossed off some other stray lines, and then said:

Enough of this persiflage. I'm runnin' wild.

Instantly, I loved that word. Had no idea what it meant, although I could sound and reason it out, more or less- but that phrase, in his jubliant-but-exhausted tone, became an  early part of the unique Lexicon of Ray, to which we later added Eleanor and Emily to similar expressions, that I pull out at least annually in some moment of exhilitation and fatigue.


And I tell you this, why?

Because Bill Mazer died yesterday, at the age of 92.  Leave it to Greg, again, to provide everything you need: the news of it, with a highly personal experience connected to it; a fairly recent retrospective by another old friend of mine (Newsday's Neil Best); and, most important to me right now, a Youtubing of that very audio I love and remember so well:

It's all there; the setup of the final game, the audio of the crucial moments, and Bill's ramblin'-guy rantings of those final joyful postgame moments, including, and I quote, "persiflage."

My comment to Greg, after I saw it this morning and listened to the audio, can only be repeated with repeat thanks here:

Good lord I remember that postgame. In the thousands of books I’ve read, millions of minutes of tv and radio I’ve heard and gagillions of gigs of bandwidth I’ve consumed, Mazer that day was the first and only to ever use the word “persiflage.” I use his “enough of this persiflage- I’m runnin’ wild” remark at least once a year. What a life, and what a loss.

So thanks to Greg, and to Neil, but especially to Bill, for a life well lived and a moment so perfectly captured that it stays with me 40 years later:)

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