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Donald Honig
October 17, 1983
His name was Robert Moses Grove. They called him Lefty, and in the late 1920s and early '30s, when he starred for the Philadelphia Athletics, they called him baseball's greatest pitcher. There were other words for Lefty, too, ones that described his moods, his personality, his temper: stormy, dour, explosive.
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October 17, 1983

The Author Meets A Baseball Lion And A Few Celebrated Pussycats

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At home plate before that day's game, Meyers was going to present his old uniform to Mets Coach Yogi Berra, the Hall of Fame former Yankee catcher. It was meant to be a symbolic gesture, Meyers explained, a bridging of the generations between one of the best catchers of the old days and one of the best of more recent times.

The ceremony at home plate was brief and dignified, Meyers uttering a few quiet words about past and present as he handed his uniform over to Berra. There was applause, and then the two men headed back to the dugout, Meyers walking with a firm step that belied his years.

In the dugout, Berra placed the old uniform on the bench. Meyers approached him. "You don't really want this, do you?" he asked Berra.

Berra shrugged. Meyers nodded, gathered up the uniform and stuffed it into a brown paper bag. He met me at the corner of the dugout. "One ceremony to go," he told me.

Upstairs we went, to the office of Mets President George Weiss, a frosty old customer who had helped build the Yankees into a dynasty. Weiss was sitting behind his desk, waiting for Meyers, who drew from the paper bag a small but bulky cloth drawstring bag. He held it in his hand as he spoke.

"Mr. Weiss," he began in a deep voice softened by time, "in 1910 when I was barnstorming in Vancouver after the season, I received a gift. The stones in this bag were given me by some Kwakiutl Indians. They said the stones would bring me good fortune and long life. I have enjoyed both. And now, with the same sentiments. I would like to present them to you."

So saying, Meyers undid the drawstring and poured across Weiss's desk a number of small, scruffy-looking stones. Weiss stared down at them and then looked up at the expressionless face of his benefactor. For a moment, each man seemed to be daring the other to smile. but both faces remained impassive. "Thank you, Chief," Weiss said. Then he stood up, and the two men shook hands.

With that, we departed. Outside in the corridor a few minutes later, I said to Meyers, "Was that true about those stones, that those what's-their-name Indians gave them to you?"

"Kwakiutl," Chief said. "They live in the Vancouver area. A noble people."

"I know. But what about the stones?"

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