Boys of Summer

Reflections: Honoring Fred Hutchinson, Manager, Cincinnati Reds

It may be the sole summer of my youth that I recall with any real clarity: the summer of ’61, that listless season after high school graduation, when Al Mosher, Bill Salzer and I spent many humid nights at Crosley Field, watching the Cincinnati Reds, under manager Fred Hutchinson, win their way to a National League pennant and a shot at the Yankees in the World Series.

The Reds, alas, would lose the Series; Al, Bill and I would choose separate life paths but not stray apart. There would be Al’s wedding, and, later, a son. There’d be clueless weekend nights with Bill over Stroh’s beer at Shipley’s, where he’d lament statistics class, and I’d talk about my work at WKRC-TV.

And then it all fell apart.

On Dec. 15, 1967, 44 years ago today, Al stepped on a “friendly” land mine in Vietnam; his widow, Sharon, called me in New York with the news, and I went down to Washington for Al’s burial at Arlington. Bill, in the Army and stationed in Okinawa, escorted Al’s body home for the funeral. The three of us were together once more, together one final time.

I never saw Bill alive again. Two years later, a captain at Ft. Hayes, he was murdered by a soldier under his command.

Two young lives brought to an end in their mid-20s, and 40-, 50-plus years of life stolen from each, years they never had the opportunity to experience, to savor and to hold dear. I often tell myself that Bill and Al would love to be my age and have my Stage 4 prostate cancer — and that puts my cancer, and my life, in perspective; keeps my head screwed on straight; and reminds me of all the blessings of life, whatever the bumps.

Today, just to close this circle, my oncologist, besides treating me in the clinic, conducts prostate cancer research — at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center here in Seattle.

And, yes, it’s named for the manager of those Cincinnati Reds, that summer of ‘61.

About Bill Curry

Stage 4 prostate cancer

21 Responses to “Boys of Summer”

  1. I was raised in Cincinnati and went to the Reds games in the late 60’s! I suspect you’re a chili fan. What’s your favorite? I rank them Skyline, Goldstar and Empress. I’ve yet to try Dixie. I used to have frozen Skyline shipped in on dry ice from Atlanta, but now the local Krogers carries it. I may have some tonight!

    • Sorry for the delay in getting your comments posted — I was in China and unable to access WordPress. I am quite biased to three-way chili from Skyline or Empress (I have what is purported to be the Empress recipe). I don’t recall Gold Star or Dixie from my growing up years. Cincinnati chili rules!

  2. Bill, I remember Billy Salzer very well. I had no idea that he had been killed. As you know I am a bladder cancer survivor now into my fourth year of recovery. Also I am in my 32nd year of recovery from alcoholism. After reading your blog I asked myself..am I grateful enough? Probably not. I do feel touched by your recovery battle and I am grateful that Teddie and I had you and Rebecca in our home last year. My prayers are with you cuz.
    Richard(Dickie)

    • I’ve hung on and clung on to your blog comment for far too long, hoping that some sort of divine intervention would help me with a reply. Tomorrow, I leave for godless China, where there’s no divine intervention so it’s time to fly solo.

      The Pope (who knows which one, as they’re all just playing Pope) once said, “There is never enough charity,” and I think, to your point, we’re probably never ‘grateful enough,’ just to be living in America in the time we have been — well, that’s better than most people in the history of mankind have had it. Stuff like cancer just makes you realize it more, and for you — to have kicked cancer’s ass and kicked alcohol’s ass–wow! At River Downs, I believe that was called the Daily Double. So indeed, be grateful for all you’ve done, all you’ve been blessed with, including Teddy. We are blessed.

      I’m so grateful that after so long we’ve re-connected, and that Rebecca and I could share your home on a sunny Saturday in September. What a memory. Again!

      Onward, Cuz, and thanks for those prayers!

      Love, Bill

      Bill Curry Blog: My First Cancer New! Photo Gallery: Bill Curry

  3. Goosebumps….and wonderful memories of the three of you. I would tell you to keep writing and keep fighting, but I know I don’t need to. I will keep praying.

  4. Bill, I had heard that Al Mosher died tragically too young in Vietnam. Didn’t know about Bill Salzer. In working with families and friends of alcoholics, I have seen how untreated alcoholism will take everything from a person — health, friends, family, finances. At this point in my life, I am grateful for many blessings, chiefly, emotional sobriety.

  5. You are such an inspiration to us all. Great story Bill. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Can’t tell you are a writer, Curry, sob. I’m late in joining the party here but congrats for being able to express so eloquently what memories of friends and even ordinary times in our lives do to sustain us through the rough spots. Kansas

  7. Wonderful vignette, Bill. In a few words, you have managed to touch on so many universal experiences: importance of life and friends, how baseball stitches our lives together, the scars of Vietnam that still haunt our generation and a special place called Cincinnati, where I have my own fond memory as a summer intern at the Enquirer in 1974. That internship got me hired the next summer at The Post, where I was assigned to an editor from…Cincinnati. You. I don’t think that was a coincidence. Keep writing, Steve Fehr

  8. Thank you Bill. I loved this entry – and I needed it. I will be sure to hug my 15 year old son tight today and forget that for the past many days I have been pushed away and to the limit.

  9. Bill-another one hit ‘out of the park’ as you are wont to do. We all need to continually step back and be grateful for what we do have, not linger over what we (perceive) we don’t. This is sadly an appropriate time in the course of our country to be thankful for our lives and to recognize those less fortunate than us in so many ways.
    We look forward to sharing Christmas with you and your family and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2012!

  10. It was a long time ago.. Another lifetime. It’s good that you remember and share those times. Sandi

  11. Bill, what a touching story and so well-written. Life can turn on a dime for each of us. Thanks for reminding us to appreciate all the good we have had in our lives and appreciate and live for today. Merry Christmas to you and family.
    Patti

  12. Merry Christmas, Bill. Thank you for your posts — each one inspires me and helps remind me how lucky I am to be alive and enjoying the journey. I’m sorry for the deaths of Bill and Al but am grateful that you are here, sharing your wisdom, challenges and triumphs! XO

  13. Very touching — life is, indeed, short. Look forward to seeing you on Saturday. Keep up the posts, I look forward to each one.

  14. Inspiring story and positive attitude. I lost my father to kidney cancer and started a nonprofit to give others a chance. Recently, I lost another friend and share some thoughts in a blog that you might enjoy: http://scottshirley.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/in-memory-of-coach-daniels-heroes-are-remembered-but-legends-never-die/. You may find that we share some of the same perspectives on life. Keep the faith!

  15. What a story! Thank you. We tend to assume that we’ll have long, normal lives — and that can change in a moment. Good reminder.

  16. An incredible story from an incredible writer. Thanks Bill.

  17. Love your writings, Bill. Keep ’em coming.

  18. Wonderful piece about 3 of the nicest guys in our class. Your perspective is well received.

  19. well written; well written.

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