It’s pointless story time with the king!
Ten years ago today, Thursday December 21, 1995, was the longest day of my life.
A little background: I was in my freshman year of college. Two months earlier, in their first post-season appearance since 1981, the Yankees were eliminated in an exciting 5-game ALDS match-up with Seattle. One of the reasons the Yankees even made it to the post-season was because of the trade deadline acquisition of David Cone. I had never paid attention to Cone before his stint with the Yankees, but watching them then, I was amazed by the way he pitched. But it was Cone’s free agent year and all the scuttlebutt had Cone signing with Baltimore. Also, it was finals week at Seton Hall. It had snowed like every day that week. And in New Orleans, my great-grandmother was dying. I had planned to go down to Louisiana for Christmas, but with her sick, my trip was bumped up a few days to Thursday afternoon.
Anyway, on to the day: It started out real early. I had moved my English final from Thursday afternoon to the morning. Seven in the morning. And I had to take it in the lobby of the English department. People buzzing around wasn’t exactly conducive to writing essay questions, but somehow, I got by. Thursday was the first day of the week that it didn’t start out snowing, but that didn’t last long. By the time my father picked me up to take me to the airport, the snow had started. We stopped for lunch at this Polish deli in Linden –on the ride from there to the airport, WFAN had a breaking news report that all Cone had to do was sign and he was an Oriole. I was pissed.
So my father dropped me off at Newark International. I had a flight to Pittsburgh, and a half-hour wait before a flight to New Orleans. Funny, but it didn’t exactly work out that way.
Because of snow in New Jersey, the flight to Pittsburgh was delayed three hours. Of course, they didn’t tell us until we were already on the plane. Luckily, (or not, depending on your point of view), I had bought a paperback (Tim Allen’s Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man) at the airport, so I had something to read at least. The plane eventually took off, but got me into Pittsburgh a mere ten minutes too late- around 9:30. The next flight to New Orleans wasn’t until 6:15 the next morning.
The airline (I think it was US Air, but I’m not sure) gave me 10 bucks for dinner, which I spent in the airport Friday’s. I probably had a steak, then went wandering around the airport. Spent a few quarters in the arcade, then walked some more and stumbled upon the “Meditation Room.” The meditation room was actually a nice place- a video loop of clouds projected on to the wall with some nice music in the background. I was the only one in there for about an hour, just reading. For some reason, I found it impossible to sleep. A little later, some other travelers came in, started talking amongst themselves and disconnected the video loop and music. This pissed me off, so I went off exploring some more.
It was well after midnight by now (but no where close to 6), so I did some more walking. The place was empty. Thing is, the moving walkways were still on. I started walking around on those. Then I laid down on one and it was really weird just letting it take me while my carry-on bag followed. You gain an odd sense of perspective being alone in a place usually teeming with people.
The next few hours were more of the same nothing. I read some more, walked around, watched other travelers try and find a place to sleep. By this point, the meditation room was crowded and stinky. I still couldn’t fall asleep.
Sometime before 5, I started noticing workers with carts walking around the airport. One of the workers put some copies of the day’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette into a machine near one of the terminals and I was lucky enough not to spend all my quarters.
I got a paper and opened up to the sports section, and the headline said something about BJ Surhoff and Roberto Alomar signing with Baltimore. I didn’t care anything about that. Below that, it said Cone decided to stay with New York. At that point, the night’s wait and boredom felt worth it. The rest of the time actually flew by, and shortly after that, I boarded a plane to New Orleans. Usually, I don’t sleep on planes, but I managed to on that flight.
I got to say goodbye to my great-grandmother. Found out I did well on the English final. The ’96 baseball season was something else. Alomar made an ass of himself by spitting on an umpire. Cone developed an aneurysm, spent four months on the disabled list, but made a comeback that fall capped off with a win in game three of the ’96 series.
I later read that during final negotiations, Baltimore’s owner put Cone on hold, during which time, George Steinbrenner called Cone, and offered him a better deal with a no-trade clause.
Cone was on hold on the phone. I was on hold in the airport. Funny how things work out.