The Rutgers season opener was on Labor Day, which meant that I had to modify a comparatively recent tradition for myself, heading down the Shore on Labor Day. So I had to do it the day before.
My grandmother lived in Brick, New Jersey for 32 years, six miles from the Boardwalk at Point Pleasant Beach. So that was our Shore town, and so I got on the bus in East Brunswick, rode it to South Amboy, and got on New Jersey Transit's North Jersey Coast Line, changing trains at Long Branch, down to Point Beach. The station is just one mile from the Boardwalk.
The town and the Boardwalk ain't what they used to be. There was a nasty fire in 1975. I don't remember that, although I do remember a few new things the next summer, 1976. But another fire in 1990 took out much of the Boardwalk's northern end, including some of Martell's Sea Breeze, a legendary Shore fun-spot. It also took out the waterslide, which has since been replaced by Jenkinson's Aquarium. It's one of the nieces' favorite places. They love fish.
Martell's, in its various forms, including now with its rebuilt Tiki Bar and Shrimp Bar, has been home to good food and live music for decades. It's where Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons were performing in the Summer of 1962 when they found out "Sherry" had hit Number 1.
But there's a problem: The Yankees have never won when I've been at Martell's. And I mean never. Not hardly ever, but never ever. I'm not talking about 0-1, or even 0-5. I'm talking about 0-25 or so over a course of 35 years, and that's just what I can be fairly sure of.
This includes an awful Jose Contreras performance against the Red Sox, and two interleague games against the Mets. Come to think of it, the family may have been at Martell's on June 18, 1977, that crazy Saturday afternoon when Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin chewed each other out in the Fenway Park dugout.
I figured, with the team the Yankees have now, this was as good a chance as any to break the spell.
When I got there, it was already 3-0 Blue Jays. Oh no, here we go again. Except that, while I was sitting at the bar, they tied it up, 3-3. I thought we had something going.
But the bartenders didn't even look at me. Clearly, they were busy, but they couldn't even ask me if I wanted anything? Such service is inexcusable, so I left.
From that point on, it was 11-5 Jays for a 14-8 final. Rats. The Curse still lives.
And then the next day, I sat through that horrible Rutgers game. At least the Yanks swept two from the Rays and the Red Sox lost. Drop that Magic Number down.
A few things of significance have happened since then. Next post.