I could see my teammates slamming their helmets to the ground. The game had come down to one short kick, and I had failed them. The walk back to the bench seemed like 10 miles. I was numb. I couldn't feel the ground under me. I fell I had to get out of this business. Whatever possessed me in the first place?
In War Memorial Stadium there is no dugout tunnel to the dressing room. You have to go through the stands to get there. The fans were cursing me. They tore at my jersey. I didn't care. When I got inside I just sat staring into my locker, ignoring players who tried to console me.
I was the last one dressed. One of the officials came up and said there were some punks outside laying for me. He said I could get out through the back. I said, "No, I'm going out the front." What did I care if they beat me up? Three policemen escorted me out. I didn't have a car and I didn't want to ride. I lived only two miles from the park. I started walking.
I wasn't even looking when the car pulled alongside. A couple of guys got out, ran up behind me and started yelling, "You no-good bum, go back to Boston. We don't need you. You stink." One of them punched me in the back. I didn't even go down. They were kids. They were more scared than I was. I didn't resist. I just let the one kid hit me. Then he ran back to his car. I didn't even try to get the license number. I felt I deserved what I got.
I know I work myself into these states. At the University of Connecticut, I was uptight all the time, worrying about making the baseball team, worrying about my skin condition, worrying about a bad stomach I was getting from worrying about my skin condition. I was taking a lot of ribbing because of my eyes, people accusing me of boozing it up.
You say, well, a man has to shake those depressions. I do. Eventually. But maturity has come late for me.
I went to a Philadelphia Phillie tryout when I was in high school. Some Phillie scouts came out to West Haven to conduct two camps, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I tried out in the morning. I didn't do too well, so I changed my shirt and signed in for the afternoon session. I signed my brother's name, Wally Lusteg.
One of the scouts looked me over and said, "Say, son, didn't you try out this morning?"
"No, sir," I said, "That was my twin brother." Wally is three years younger. It would have made medical history.
I wasn't any better as Wally. We both got cut. But I had an inkling then to what lengths a desperate man might go to get a break in this world.