When the World Series rolls around each year, I find myself reliving a very pleasant memory — the time I went to the World Series with Richard Nixon, at the time still serving as President of the United States.
I was a freshman at American University in Washington, DC at the time of the 1969 World Series, the year of the Miracle Mets. Saturday, October 11 was a warm fall day in DC. Game 1 was due to get underway in Baltimore in the afternoon. I was hanging out in my dorm room when one of the guys who lived across the hall knocked, came in, and waggled a handful of World Series tickets in the air. “I scored six tickets for today’s game. Wanna go?”
Terris the ticket man was from Darien, CT, quite obviously from a well-to-do family. He had an aristocratic air about him and he was staunchly conservative in that era of fevered anti-war protest. His politics led to any number of heated debates, with Terris inevitably outnumbered by however-many-people-were-present to one. Beyond all that, though, Terris was a friendly and warm guy with a good sense of humor. Plus he was going to just give us the tickets, no reimbursement needed. He quickly met his quota.
As we headed off in Terris’ brand new, big, black car — the make and model of which elude my memory, but definitely something Cadillac-like — consensus was quickly reached that we would be rooting for the Mets. Because of course you had to root for the Mets. After being the worst team in baseball since their inception earlier in the decade, one just couldn’t not root for the Mets in the World Series.
Soon enough we were at cruising speed on the interstate headed 40 miles north to Baltimore, Terris at the wheel. We hadn’t been traveling long when Terris noted that there were a lot of flashing police lights coming up from behind — fast.
In short order, a V formation of about a dozen highway patrol motorcycles roared by on our left, followed closely by a long line of some eight or ten black limousines.
“Holy shit, did you see who that was!” blurted Terris. “My president! Richard Milhous Nixon!”
“Run him off the road,” scowled someone, maybe me.
“I’ll do better than that,” replied Terris. And he mashed the pedal to the floor. We shot ahead.
We rapidly caught up with the tail end of the presidential motorcade, whereupon Terris pulled in behind the last limo and kept pace with the lineup of cars ahead of us.
And nothing else happened. We drove the rest of the way to Baltimore as a part of the motorcade — at speeds well over the posted limit. In other words, we made very good time.
As we got off the interstate and onto city streets, Terris turned onto a side street in order to quietly slip away from the motorcade.
We had a great time at the game, even though the Mets lost, the only game they would lose in the Series.
The ride back to campus was uneventful.
Photo credit: Bernd W. Schüttke from Berlin, Germany, found at Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 2.0]