"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

SHADOW GAMES: Baseball and Me

I went to a baseball game after my father’s funeral. I also went to one after finding out about my mother’s brain cancer.

It was selfish and heartless. I felt guilty before and embarrassed after, but for nine innings I felt only the game. That’s the way it’s always been between baseball and me.

It was my friend when I didn’t have any others. And it has always been there to talk or listen or simply to watch.

Baseball helps me forget and it makes me remember. That’s why it was exactly what I needed on the worst days of my life.

But there were no games when a doctor told me that I had cancer. The neighborhood was out of baseball on that cold November day. No one was playing at Franz Sigel Park or John Mullaly Park. And there wasn’t even a game of catch in Joyce Kilmer Park. The last game at the old Yankee Stadium was long gone and Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium was long off.

So I went home and wished for one of those summer days when I was a kid and my mother would send me to the ballpark with a paper sack stuffed with her famous tuna-fish sandwiches. That was back when you could slip through a delivery gate with the beer kegs and watch batting practice. And it was always okay to come home late with a beat-up scorecard and popcorn stuck between your teeth.

The doctor told me that tomorrow’s surgery and chemotherapy treatment might keep me in the hospital for 10 days.

“At least it’s December,” I said. “There aren’t any ballgames to miss.”

And I will be ready to slip through a delivery gate with the beer kegs when the new Yankee Stadium opens. I’ll watch batting practice with one of my mother’s famous tuna-fish sandwiches and come home late with a beat-up scorecard and popcorn stuck between my teeth.

Cancer can’t change the way it will always be between baseball and me.


1 yanks26   ~  Dec 22, 2008 10:50 am

Hang in there. I can relate to you on several aspects. I remember when I had Epsteins Bar, and lost 30 pounds and didn't have the strength to get out of bed. Like you, I would watch baseball games, almost like it was a classic blues recording. The first time my brother came to see me, and saw me watching a game he cracked up.

I've been through the C thing too, it's scary stuff. Make sure you have the best doctor and keep upbeat. You're going to have to be a champion in this fight. Think Derek Jeter here, you're going to need heart and grit, like the captain.

Send me an email, if you need someone to talk to.

2 The 13th   ~  Dec 22, 2008 10:58 am

Best of luck to you, Todd. My girlfriend was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and has been undergoing chemo for the past 6 months. Today, in fact, she's getting what we hope is going to be her final treatment. It's a rough time, but just try to stay as positive as you can. I wish you a speedy and comfortable recovery.

3 Shaun P.   ~  Dec 22, 2008 11:05 am

All the best to you, Todd - as Steven Goldman and Will Carroll say, kick its ass.

4 Todd Drew   ~  Dec 22, 2008 11:47 am

Thanks to everyone for your support. I’m wearing my Derek Jeter T-shirt to the hospital tomorrow. It wasn’t hard to work out the laundry schedule because I have a few of them.

5 Raf   ~  Dec 22, 2008 11:57 am

Hey man, I wish you the best

If you don't mind hanging over a computer, you can watch youtube clips of ballgames.

ESPN Deportes has winter league action every so often; caught a few games so far.

I've been disappointed with YES & SNY regarding their selection of "classic" games, though I suppose I can understand why their classics are of recent vintage (don't have to pay for them?)

I discovered the MLB network while channel surfing this weekend. Unfortunately, they had the 2004 Red Sox WS video playing on an infinite loop.

But, worse comes to worst, I have several games in my tape library, if I ever get around to converting them to DVD (or at the very least, make a VHS copy), I'd be willing to share.

6 Joseph   ~  Dec 22, 2008 11:59 am

Good luck Todd. Cancer seems to touch everyone to some extent. One of my older sisters had a tough fight with cancer. I've had numerous bouts with skin cancer over the years (out in the sun to much). I admire people who show strength and composure during tough times.

Anyone who's a friend of baseball and the Yankees is a friend of mine. Your name will be mentioned for extra prayers at Christmas Eve services at the church I attend (not as often as I should, but I always make it on Christmas).

7 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 22, 2008 12:02 pm

Best of luck to you Todd! Let us know if you need anything, or can send anything along to your hospital/room.

8 Joe L.   ~  Dec 22, 2008 12:09 pm

Whoa this story blew me away. Cancer is bad but it is beatable in this day and age. What kind of cancer is it? What do the doctors tell you?

9 Todd Drew   ~  Dec 22, 2008 12:31 pm

Thanks again for all the good thoughts from everyone at Bronx Banter. It’s been a pleasure hanging out here. I hope to be back blogging in a few weeks.

[8] The cancer I have is called: pseudomyxoma peritonei. Don’t ask me how to pronounce it. The doctors tell me that a cure is not likely, but that it is “containable” for long periods of time. They will know more after the tumors are removed and they can run tests. The odds are pretty good that I will need this surgery again in a couple of years. That’s fine with me because I’ll have two more World Series to keep me company.

10 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 22, 2008 12:32 pm

Wowzers. You've got a deep well of personal experience to draw from, don't you? God, I demand an extension! (please???) >;)

11 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 22, 2008 12:51 pm


I just googled your condition .... it doesn't sound fun. :-(

But, it seems controllable .... annoying but controllable.

oy ..... puts everything in perspective ....

12 bronxborn   ~  Dec 22, 2008 12:53 pm

My Dear Friend,

Throw strikes. Then hit one out of the park for me.


13 lordbyron   ~  Dec 22, 2008 1:13 pm

Good luck to you! Loved yesterday's comments about Falcon Park and old MacArthur Stadium - great places to grow up watching baseball!! And
I've also been searching for the old Mike Lupica - too bad he's nowhere to
be found.

14 Just Fair   ~  Dec 22, 2008 1:22 pm

Best of luck to you, Todd. Keep the faith.

15 ny2ca2dc   ~  Dec 22, 2008 4:04 pm

Really dig your writing and your point of view, even if I don't always agree. I'm supper glad you're a part of the Banter these days, and wish you the best.

16 Bama Yankee   ~  Dec 22, 2008 4:30 pm

Hang in there Todd, I'll keep you in my prayers.

17 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 22, 2008 4:39 pm

Oh Todd... shitty news Dude. I'm so sorry to hear it. From what I read, your cancer rarely seems to spread, so hopefully ya have many more then 2 World Series in your future.... providing AJ cooperates.

And speaking of baseball.... we know Cashman is trying to make his money go the furthest (not including CC and AJ of course), With CC, AJ, Wang and Joba as a pretty dynamite 3.75 pitchers, do we really need to spend $10m on Andy? I like Andy, but it really seems we are doing pretty well it pitching. I guess it's only one year.... and maybe Cashman has a surprise bat coming, but having Andy as a #4/#5 seems like overkill.

And Todd... I'll guess you are reading all kinds of 'new stuff' now. Have you heard/read anything about: Graviola

Sounds interesting.

18 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 22, 2008 4:59 pm

[17] Yuck, are you trying to feed him beef gravy and ravioli? >;)

19 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 22, 2008 5:36 pm


Nah .... its about Frank Viola's attempts to become an astronaut ... :-)

20 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 22, 2008 5:57 pm

Todd, good luck to you during this next, tough stage. Cancer..it really does affect everyone. 11 years ago when my dad broke the news that he had thyroid cancer. Like you, baseball was something we always held on to together. Wish you all the best.

21 Todd Drew   ~  Dec 22, 2008 8:59 pm

Thanks for all your kind words. I will be baseball blogging back at you soon.
-Todd Drew

22 thelarmis   ~  Dec 22, 2008 11:57 pm

[21] todd, sounds like i might be logging in here too late to catch you. if you happen to read this post...

um, i'm not sure where to start. from the time i woke up, i've been looking forward to reading "baseball and me." it's been a long day and i'm just getting around to it. halfway thru, i had to jot down the amazing sentence: "Baseball helps me forget and it makes me remember." i can totally relate to that. i put it on a piece of scrap paper and filed it in my computer desk drawer, probably near an Alex Belth quote i liked and wrote down a coupla years ago.

i was already feeling terrible for you and shaking my head about your parents and was remembering your post about your grandfather from last month. when i got to the news about you, i just kept shaking my head and saying "WHAT?!?!?!?!" aloud, over and over. it didn't compute. and then it did. and now i'm crying.

i suffered through a mess of medical maladies earlier this year and for most of the year. scariest shit i could ever have imagined. and it changed my perspective. at one point, the 'C' word was mentioned. turned out, everything i had was scary for certain, but not super serious in the long run, and i'm fine.

i can't begin to tell you how hard i hope you will be fine. i'm not a religious man in the slightest, but i will be thinking about you every single day and asking the universe - no, demanding - that you can keep this in check and be healthy.

i'll be in NY the first weekend in '09 visiting my grandpa. probably too soon to come visit you in the hospital, huh???

hang in there, my friend! best of luck, you WILL be fine!!! i simply CANNOT wait to see you in the batters box again, proverbial pen in hand, scratching out life's sentences here for Shadow Games!!!

all the best, pal.

23 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 23, 2008 12:09 am

[22] Dude, you rock out loud >;) Both of you.

24 thelarmis   ~  Dec 23, 2008 12:41 am

[23] thanks, chyll. you rock too, bro! i'm gonna keep checking back here on the off chance Todd checks in again. i have an idea to get this post to him though. we'll see if it works. i feel terrible i was late here and didn't get to send him well wishes. i also thought of a cool somethin' or other to give him; i think it'll make him smile, or at least giggle! i'd love to meet and visit with him for a spell when i'm in NY, but it'll probably too close to him just getting outta the hospital. i can't stop thinking about this...

25 Todd Drew   ~  Dec 23, 2008 5:10 am

I’m getting ready to go to the hospital and I wanted to check in one last time. I am really touched by your comments. You really made my day. I love writing here because I love baseball and all the people in the game. Your support means more than you will ever know. I would love to meet you when you’re in town. My email is shadowgames@earthlink.net.

Thanks to everyone at Bronx Banter for your support. I’ll be fine because I’m already wearing my Derek Jeter T-shirt. The Captain always brings everyone home.

26 cultureondemand   ~  Dec 23, 2008 3:20 pm

To all those readers here at Bronx Banter, you obviously know how kind and insightful Todd is, but unless you are a coworker you may never know what an amazing teammate he is. I wanted to give him a message from his folks at work ...

Todd you make everyone around you better and are the consummate professional while never complaining or asking for credit. We consider you a national treasure much like the bombers you so adore. We look forward to your triumphant return!

27 Patrick   ~  Dec 25, 2008 12:05 pm

Good luck. You'll be in my thoughts.

28 murphydog   ~  Dec 25, 2008 12:16 pm


I just read about this over at Pete Abe's blog. It's a bad break, my friend. But I know from your writing that you believe there is more to life than what we can see, that there is a higher power keeping the human soul alive and striving despite the many hard knocks. I know you will be able to deal with this. You and your family are in my prayers.


29 rodg12   ~  Dec 25, 2008 2:48 pm


I've always enjoyed reading your blog posts. Here's hoping you make a speedy and full recovery! Have a Merry Christmas!!!!

30 Mrs Todd Drew   ~  Dec 25, 2008 5:14 pm

Thank you for all of the kind words - Todd will be very touched when he is able to read all of the posts and emails. Todd will be in ICU for a few more days and has a long road ahead of him but he is going to be ready for the opening of the new Yankee Stadium and will be back to writing as soon as possible. -Marsha

31 royhobbs   ~  Dec 26, 2008 11:39 pm


I enjoy your writing and viewpoint immensely. I know you'll beat this cancer just like the Yanks will beat the rest of baseball in winning the World Series in 2009. Go get 'em.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver