Tag Archive | world series

Our “Don Cardwell” Connection

OUR “DON CARDWELL” CONNECTION

 

Don Cardwell Mets card

Don Cardwell Mets card

For those who don’t know or have forgotten, Don Cardwell was a Major League pitcher and was with the New York Mets when they won the World Series in 1969. He was most famous for pitching a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals when he made his first start as a Chicago Cub on May 13, 1960.

But let’s backtrack and learn of a special connection the Singer/Byerly family has had with the famous Don Cardwell.

Don was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on December 7, 1935. He began his career in baseball in 1957. If you want the details of his career, just Google him.

Don Cardwell portrait

Don Cardwell portrait

It was about 1960 (it isn’t known if this was before or after his big win mentioned above) when Don was visiting his hometown and family. A cousin of his, Mrs. Greer, was a fourth grade school teacher at Griffith Elementary in south Winston-Salem. Don went to visit her at the school and during recess, pitched to her students for a while. One of those students was Philip Byerly. He and his classmates were excited and thrilled to have a real Major League Baseball player there in their midst.

Don Cardwell Mets card 2

Don Cardwell Mets card 2

In 1967, Cardwell began pitching for the Mets and stayed with them until 1970 when he was traded to the Atlanta Braves. It was during these years that Marcia Byerly lived in New York and attended or watched many a Mets game and no doubt watched Don Cardwell pitch. Sam Singer was at the final game of the 1969 World Series when the Mets won. Don Cardwell was there for that too. A dubious connection, but there’s more.

In January of 1973, Marcia’s parents, Sam and Martha, moved from New York to Winston-Salem. Sam found employment and they rented a house for a while until they later bought one.

Later that year, Marcia also also decided to leave the big metropolis of New York and moved to Winston-Salem. She worked at a bank as a teller for a while and had her own apartment.

Not long after arriving there, she met Philip Byerly at the bank. They got married soon after and began their life together.

In 1977, their world changed. Sam, only 63 years old, died instantly from a massive heart attack one night. Marcia was not employed at this time but was trying to find a job related to her art talents. She had not succeeded at this so far. When the dust cleared and the funeral over, she worried about her mother, only 56 at this time, and how she was going to make it without her husband. For some reason, this made Marcia decide to find another job of any kind so if her mother needed financial help, she would be in a position to do that.

Phil was working at a Chevrolet dealership at the time and Marcia landed an office position at a Ford dealership. At the interview she asked the lady if his working at the competition would be a problem, but apparently it wasn’t. So she began working there in Winston-Salem at Parkway Ford.

Don Cardwell with Chicago Cubs

Don Cardwell with Chicago Cubs

Can you guess who also was working there? Don Cardwell! He had retired from baseball in 1970 and no doubt wanted to do something else with his time so he was a car salesman. He was very tall, extremely personable and friendly. He and Marcia talked some about his baseball days and he still wore the 1969 World Series ring he got from that time. It was quite impressive! Phil came to visit at Parkway Ford and met with Don again. They talked about the time when Don had come Phil’s school.

Marcia later left Parkway Ford to work in the printing industry and never saw Don Cardwell again.

Sad to say, Don Cardwell died January 14, 2008.

Cardwell on the mound at no-hitter game

Cardwell on the mound at no-hitter game

However, the connection didn’t quite end there! While at a Winston-Salem Dash game in 2010, Marcia and Phil heard an older lady talking about Don Cardwell and their ears perked up. They brazenly asked her about it and it turned out she was his wife, Sylvie! We told her of our connection and she enjoyed hearing about it.

It just goes to prove, it’s a small world.

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Sam Singer Takes the World Series Seriously

SAM SINGER TAKES THE WORLD SERIES SERIOUSLY

Mets charm

Mets charm

Sam loved a good baseball game and especially a “pitcher’s duel” where the runs were low and the two pitchers fought for strikeouts. He was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan until they moved to Los Angeles in 1957 along with the New York Giants who moved to San Francisco the same year. Both teams deserted New York leaving them with only the Yankees in the Bronx. In 1962, the New York Mets were born and reigned at the now defunct Shea Stadium in Queens which was replaced by Citifield in 2009.

While he enjoyed football on TV also, Sam became an avid Mets fan and when the Store was profitable enough, he and his brother, Al, bought two Season Box Tickets to all of the Mets’ games. They used the tickets themselves but also treated customers, family and friends to the games.

Shea Stadium Postcard

Shea Stadium Postcard

The seats were in the first row of the first tier above the ground level seats and looked from the home plate down the first base line. They afforded a spectacular view of home plate and the field.

Shea Stadium was only a few subway stops away from Jackson Heights where the Store was, so getting there was easy and affordable. Martha, Sam’s wife, often accompanied him to games mostly just to be together because she wasn’t an avid baseball fan. One time, the game went into so many extra innings that Martha, exhausted, gave up and took the subway home alone. You couldn’t pry Sam out of the seat!

Marcia especially enjoyed the times she got to go with Sam, just the two of them. He would make up sandwiches and other snacks for them to eat at the game. Even though the Mets lost often, they had a strong, loyal base of fans and they were among them. The game is so much more exciting at the field with all the hoopla, fans and noise going on. There was the famous “Yellow Poncho” guy who wore one all the time and was often featured on the television broadcast. His seat was not too far back behind Sam’s seats. It was almost like being near a celebrity.

Sam would also watch baseball on TV or listen on the radio to broadcasts, sometimes both at the same time. As he lazed back in his recliner, he would often fall asleep and begin to snore. Woe be unto those, however, who then tried to quietly change the channel to something else! Sam would wake up and exclaim, “I’m watching that!”

“But you were snoring!” that person would reply, but put the game back on never-the-less. You didn’t argue with Sam.

You’ve heard the old saying, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Marcia did just that. It was either go somewhere else other than the living room, or try to figure out just what was going on out there with those men in the white uniforms running around hitting a ball. She began to ask questions and Sam would explain the rules and the plays. She learned baseball that way even though she never played it.

When October came around, it was time for the long-awaited World Series. It didn’t matter much what teams were in it, it was the culmination of the baseball season and truly a Big Event.

Shea Stadium

Shea Stadium

Back then, many stadiums didn’t have lights for night games, but even if they did, many games were still played in the daytime. Sam worked days so he and Al swapped off shifts so they could each attend many of the games. But they didn’t want to miss even one minute of the World Series, so for that time only, once a year, a small, black and white television was plugged in and sat in the back of the Store with the volume up so that all of the employees and the customers could hear it. Apparently, no one minded this. It was a big deal to everyone!

Shea from the air

Shea from the air

In 1962, the Mets posted a record of 40 wins to 120 losses, the worst record since Major League Baseball went to 162-game season. They never finished better than second to last and were often “in the cellar”, but Sam stayed loyal and was rewarded in 1969 when the “Miracle Mets”, as they were dubbed, beat the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series. Baltimore won the first game of the series and the Mets took the next four for the decisive win.

Can you imagine the whooping and hollering that went on in that luncheonette that day? Employees and customers alike were cheering with unbridle joy that their underdog Mets had proven they could be the Top Dog.

Everyone, but not Sam. Why, you ask?

Game 5 Ticket Stub

Game 5 Ticket Stub

Because Sam was actually at Game 5 along with his son-in-law, Seymour.  Nothing was going to stop either of these fans from that last wonderful game, not even the birth of Seymour’s daughter that day, also Sam’s granddaughter. Andrea was born on October 16, 1969, the day the Mets won the World Series.

Now, that is a true baseball fan. What a special day it was that day!