Hot Tub Time Machine, Spring Break and the Hebrew Hammer

spr oldJUPITERI figured with March Madness upon us what better time to talk about baseball. Opening day is now less than 2 weeks from now and a young man’s fancy inevitably turns to thoughts of spring, pretty girls and projectile vomiting.

I was in Jupiter, FL this week and it occurred to me that Spring Break was under way.  So in between my visits to Cardinals, Mets and Marlins camps, I decided to get into my own hot tub time machine and hit the “strip” down in Fort Lauderdale.  It was here in the Spring of 1983 that I discovered what the fuss was all about. At that time I had cashed in my bar mitzvah savings bonds from my Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Izzy and flew Eastern Airlines to Ft Lauderdale with a couple of buddies. (People’s Express had had the nerve to be charging $39 each way that week)                                                                                  cards spring

It was that Spring when I first realized that anything was possible. And it was also then when I met the original “Hebrew Hammer,” Hank Goldberg.  Hank was the most serious betting man I’d ever met. He could hit with parlays and “if” bets and teasers till the cows came home.  And seeing as how I was a UB Freshman at the time, I was all too familiar with the Cows coming home.  Anyway, Hank had a sure thing at Hialeah that week and dragged me and my buddies along for the ride. Hank was a fairly minor celebrity back then but always aspired to more and could talk his way into any party. That night in Hialeah Hank knew that the Baltimore Orioles had the same “sure thing” and a group of about 12 Os was setting up shop in a luxury suite that wasn’t all that luxurious or suite. What it did have in addition to the Orioles-who by the way-would win the World Series just 7 months later-was a bevy of Baseball Annies.  And Gina was the Annie of my dreams.  More on Gina later.


Anyway, I was disappointed that the “strip” of my late teens is no longer really a “strip” at all-but simply a strip mall-replete with Starbucks, Radio Shacks, and Cash for Gold shops.  Aside from the occasional outdoor bar with chalk written signs advertising various “events” for Spring Breakers, the Fort Lauderdale of my youth, it seemed, had become much like South Williamsburg. Gentrified crap on top of even more gentrified “charming” pubs and restaurants desperately trying to offer relevance to hispters gone wild. spring breakersGone were the sloppy dives with crass FM radio sponsored wet t-shirt contests, and belly flop battles that would amaze and titillate the uninitiated.  These bars, the ones that would ultimately give way to the Joe Francis culture were mostly gone.  Harmless sexual exploitation for Midwestern college kids-fodder for dozens of Angry Ward’s 80s Spring Break movies-a thing of the past. Replaced by Applebees, and TGIF.

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My hot tub time machine crashed a bit on this trip. The Cardinals, of course looked great. Kolten Wong looks like Robbie Cano in the Cages, but runs hard. Josh Satin was a gentleman and a mensch, and Jose Fernandez will win the 2014 NL Cy Young award. But there was still Gina. And a whirlwind through South Miami that I’d never forget. More on her later.

Mercer University by the way? They’ll  beat Duke in Round 1. Till next time…

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About Fake Sandy Alderson 175 Articles
Big Al Sternberg/Fake Sandy Alderson is from a not-so-nice part of Queens. But through grit and elbow-grease finds himself living on Long Island with his bride and twin 12-year-old sons. He is a sports encyclopedia... and a loose cannon. In fact, Michael Baron of blocked him on Twitter. You can find The Blocked One's Tweets here: @AldersonFake