The Gospel Truth

Born on a Labor Day… | September 6, 2010

Today is my birthday!

I have always looked forward to celebrated the day I was born.  At first it was just the presents.

Now it is something much more to me, though I still shake out cards to see if there is any money in them.

I find a birthday is and should be a celebration of the act of being alive. I am so thankful that my mother and father gave me the gift of life.

In ways it is better than New Year’s Day because for each of us it really is the beginning of a new year with all the reforms, reconciliations and new leaves embedded.

I think it fitting that I was born on a labor day.

I was born, on a Monday 67 years ago—also a Labor Day.  I guess you could say I have come full circle.

My mother always told me how hard my birth was.  I guess that’s what they mean by hard labor.  She made it sound like she was in a Gulag or something.

But she later told me, it was her labor of love.

A labor of love

Personally I don’t remember a thing.

I often think of all the other important days on which I could have been.

Would you like to have a birthday on April 1st or September 11th?

How about April 20th?  Or June 2nd?  Then you would be sharing a special day with Adolph Hitler or Marquis de Sade.

I have only met two other people with whom I share a  birthday.  I think September 6th was an off day in the last 150 years.  There was some lady at a dinner a few years ago.

My new dermatologist is the only other one.  I saw her on Friday and wished her a Happy Birthday, and she looked me with a scary look of disbelief.

How did I know?  She told me a year ago when she checked my file.

This one is her 50th and I think she is a little uneasy about it.  Her staff had draped her office is black crepe paper and I’ll bet that she has already received a bunch of old lady cards.

I think she’ll be fine because after all she volunteered her age.  What woman does that?

I remember fearing 50.

Avoiding the Angst of 50

I decided to avoid all the Angst by throwing a surprise party for myself with printed  invitation.  I had 35 of them printed, even though our room at the Ritz only held 17.

I did not want gag gifts, but leather, fine wine, jewelry.  I got gag gifts.  I gave my extra invitations to friends who did not make the cut.

Just made the cut

I will not repeat what they told me I could do with them.

I always check the celebrity list on my birthday, as well as my horror-scope.

Very few famous people have been born on my birthday–only Jane Curtin and JoAnne Worley.

Curtin was the recipient of Dan Aykroyd’s memorable line in a Saturday Night Live skit —Jane, you ignorant slut, and Worley was the loud-mouth comedian on Laugh-In back in the 1970s.

Somehow I am not surprised, comedians head my list because I think we were all born under the sign of the clown.

My very first joke

The older I get the more philosophical about what this special day means to me.

You cannot read the Old Testament without becoming aware of the providential aspects of human life.

All lives have a purpose and when we come into being in our mothers womb did not happen by accident.  Even the accidents were not really accidents

The Catholic Church celebrates the date that its saints died or were martyred as their feast or one might say their eternal birthday.

For the rest of us I think it is very important to celebrate the beginning of our journey.

I think both Frank Capra and Roberto Begnigni had it right when they spoke of It’s a Wonderful Life and Like is Beautiful.

I never had a real birthday party.   Oh there was cake and ice cream with my parents and my two maiden aunts but I never had a party with other children.

On my 21st birthday I was in the middle of a religious retreat in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

I spent that birthday in prayer and silence.  Those are two things that I have never been very good at.

For the 22nd I was in Charleston, Missouri, with the Extension Lay Volunteers.

We had a small gathering with the other volunteers.  We sat on the floor and drank wine like a real party.

My 1st real party

I was a newlywed my next birthday and can’t remember a thing about that birthday.

By my 24th, we had our first child and from then on, family and kids were an integral part of all of my birthdays…as it should be.

As a child going to a baseball game was my special treat.  For my birthday in 1954, I begged my dad to take me toa Sunday afternoon double-header with Pittsburgh.

He balked at spending six hours in the hot sun but offered me a Thursday evening game with the Giants at the Polo Grounds.

Even though the Dodgers lost to the Giants, I think it was 4-1–he always knew best–well almost always.  On the 6th, a buck 90 hitter–Dick Skinner of the Pirates had a career year by hitting a couple of homers and driving in 11 runs in the twin bill.  (See my comment #7)

His Pirates ruined my 11th birthday

I almost went up to him at a dinner many years later in St. Louis to berate him for ruining that birthday but I didn’t.  Forgiving is easy…forgetting is the hard part.

Several years later, the Pirates had  another twin-bill in St. Louis, also on my birthday.

So I took our youngest to the old ball park to make-up for what my dad had denied me, 28 years prior.

We got there an hour early and eight hours later, with the second game somewhere in the late innings, my son looked at me with sad eyes and said: Daddy, can we please go home now?

My most memorable birthday was the night Birthright Counseling of St. Louis awarded me their prestigious Hartnett Award.

This was named about Monsignor James Hartnett, who not only baptized my son Matthew but more importantly introduced me to Stan Musial. It was my biggest party ever–just me and 700 of my closest friends.

700 of my closest friends

I had three tables and for some reason I was hoping that Bob Costas would be there.

My cousins and I had been out to see his home and for some  inexplicable reason I had said a little prayer hoping that maybe his wife was a member and he would be there.

Well as I walked into the dinner, who should be standing there in all of his glory, but Mr. C?

Now Bob and I are not bosom buddies, but there is a mutual respect that dates back to 1973.

We chatted for a while and I realize that he hadn’t a clue that I am the honoree.  And I proceeded NOT to tell him.

After my four-minute speech was over he rushed up to me and begged for my forgiveness.  What a night?

I will always believe his presence at my party was a birthday gift from God.

As I get older my wife and I like to spend my birthday with our friends, Bobby and Jeannie from New York.  I have known Bobby Valentino since the 1st grade, which means that next to my 64-year-old cousin, I have known him longer than anyone left alive.

The spice of my life

We have spent the 60th, 65th and last year in their company. Good friends are without a doubt, the spice of my life.

Last year it was back to baseball.  Our friend took us to Citifield in Flushing to see the Mets beat the Cubs 5-2. She got us seats at $270 a pop, in the 8th row behind home plate.

$270 a pop

This year is going to be a little more laid back.  When my wife asked me what I wanted to do this year, my first thought was that I wanted to go dip in our son’s pool…maybe play Madden 11 with Tyler, my grandson or just hang out.

I don’t know how many of these I will have left, but i can tell you, I plan to cherish each and every one of them.   And on March 6, 2011, I plan to celebrate my half birthday.


8 Comments »

  1. Happy Birthday to my favorite Duck!

    Comment by Melissa Ann Holley — September 6, 2010 @ 2:57 pm

  2. Hope you have a great birthday with those people your hanging out with!!

    Comment by Patti — September 6, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

  3. Bill, I’m sure you take the time to remember those less fortunate.
    In particular, the families to whom our Church has caused divisions.
    Happy Borthday to you……..la la la.

    Comment by Lynne Newington — September 7, 2010 @ 12:15 am

  4. Bill, This is such a treat to read!! I am delighted to get to know you better. As a post WWII baby, there were few celebrations for my early birthdays. When I married my beloved L.M. I told him I didn’t care what the gift was so long as it came on the day. I always had to wait until Christmas for my present. I am now looking forward (??) to my 73rd which hopefully will occur on Bill of Rights day — rarely if ever celebrated, though it should be.

    Comment by Marty — September 7, 2010 @ 3:21 am

  5. I have to tell you that I got my “birthday wish” today. We went to the 9AM Mass, I got a “free” lunch at the Clayton Coffee House and Crepery, blew the rest of my Borders’ book money and went to Mark’s home for a little R&R with the grandkids in his pool. That’s really all I wanted to float and burn.
    I even got in a game of Madden 11 with y. I have not beaten him at all this year…I am like 0-7. After I beat him in ping pong, he was out for blood. Surprisingly I was up 28-20 with less than two minutes left. He scored and tied the game. With seconds left and unsure of the time-out control—they changed everything in the new version, I kicked a 55 yd FG as the clock expired. God truly had gotten tired of seeing me lose all the time. It was the thrill of a lifetime.

    Comment by bbprof — September 7, 2010 @ 3:33 am

  6. Happy belated birthday Bill. Great blog!

    Comment by Tom Gottlieb — September 7, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

  7. My good friend and baseball stats guy—Jimmy R. the president of the Bob Broeg Chapter of SABR has in good faith challenged my fuzzy memories. I am as much a purist as Jim is when it comes to historical accuracy, so let me set my own inaccurate record straight.

    The Pirates ruined my birthday with some ample help from Dick Skinner as I said but he did not and maybe he never did amass 11 RBIs in a double-header.

    Since my dad did not take me to those two games,what little I remember about the specifics came from the TV account. I still do remember and I can still “see it” as one of the frozen memories of my mind –Skinner hitting a grandslam.

    I remembered that correctly. The only 11 he amassed that day was 11 at bats. I don’t know where I got that number from—the final scores were 9-6 (12 innings) and 9-7. Skinner did get 3 hits in his 11 at bats.

    I did learn that in the second game another Pirate whom I should have been mad at, except he later he became the best player on the 1962 Mets, Frank Thomas hit a homer off Brooklyn’s Tommy Lasorda.

    I was also wrong about the score with the game on the Friday night with the Giants. I correctly remembered it as the 3rd of September but since I had erroneously thought my birthday fell on a Sunday, I had done the math incorrectly.

    The score was much higher but I did remember correctly that Whitey Lockman had homered and Hoyt Wilhelm had pitched for New York. Maybe we left when it was 5-3.

    So in defense, my memory was pretty good, it was just I got some wrong information 56 years ago that I have carried with me all these years. I know I have always identified Bob Skinner, as the birthday spoiler when it should have been his entire team that had provoked my ire.

    Comment by bbprof — September 7, 2010 @ 8:12 pm

  8. Nicely written, Dad. And by the way, I still want a refund since you took me to see the ghastly Pirates many moons ago on your b-day. And so if we consider the price of the ticket plus interest, I say you owe me . . . well, your car. Just kidding. Hope ye had a great b-day yesterday, Pop.

    Comment by Matt Borst — September 7, 2010 @ 9:41 pm


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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net.

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