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
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.
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
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.
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
"I know. But
what about the stones?"