September 10, 2020
By Bruce Neyers
Bob Gibson strikes out Norm Cash in the 1968 World Series.
I admit to having a great love for baseball. It has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. A few years ago, a physician advised me to work on my son Mike’s motor skills by tossing a ball to him in our front yard. I bought some gloves and baseballs, and began playing catch with him. One day our daughter Lizzie saw us tossing the ball back and forth, and grabbed the extra glove to join us. That family outing was a high point in my life.
I read a lot about baseball, and my collection of books on the subject is second only to my library of wine books. Barbara knows about this fondness, and whenever a gift is called for, I can count on receiving a book of baseball stories. Recently, the New Yorker began to reprint classic pieces from their archives, and as an anniversary surprise Barbara printed one of them for me. It was written by Roger Angell — perhaps the greatest baseball storyteller of all time. He writes about one of its greatest players, St. Louis Cardinal Bob Gibson.
Angell is the son of Katharine White, an early New Yorker fiction editor. He’s the step-son of E.B. White — yes, that E. B. White — author of Charlotte’s Web and The Elements of Style. Now 98, Angell was the chief fiction editor at the New Yorker for decades, and brightened every year with his report at the end of spring training, followed later by an end-of-season piece after the final out of the World Series. Those collections were eventually released as books.
The Angell piece Barbara gave me was a profile of Bob Gibson, who in game one of the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers broke the record for the number of strikeouts in a single world series game, striking out 17 Tigers. Angell writes about Gibson’s life in retirement after 17 seasons in baseball. It’s written with great emotion, balanced by a keen sense of history. It’s a story that seems ageless, despite having been published 40 years ago, and it’s a fitting tribute to our national pastime, and two of its most impressive heroes.
Last week I had to visit my knee surgeon in Vacaville, and whenever I get close to Sacramento I stop in at Corti Brothers. On this trip we bought a leg of lamb and had it boned and butterflied. At home, Barbara marinated it in pomegranate juice using the recipe developed by the brilliant chef Narsai David, a local food personality. On Sunday night she grilled it over mesquite charcoal on our Weber. When it was perfectly medium-rare, she removed it, then let it sit for 20 minutes, before carefully slicing it — against the grain. Delicious.
I selected two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany our lamb: 2010 Ch. Pichon-Lalande from Bordeaux, and 2010 Neyers Cabernet Sauvignon. A dish this good deserves to be served with Cabernet Sauvignon. If baseball is the national pastime of American sports, Cabernet Sauvignon is the national pastime of American wine, I thought.
We long ago sold out of the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, but the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Neyers Ranch’ is still available, and now drinks marvelously. I plan to open a bottle of it with the 2016 Ch. Pichon-Lalande one day, and serve them with a grilled leg of lamb. There’s no reason you can’t try that now.
Here’s the link to the Roger Angell piece on Bob Gibson. I hope you enjoy both the wine and the story.