September 1819: The University of Cincinnati was founded. This will be the only mention of UC for the remainder of this article. I have a lot to say about Bernie Carbo and I think you should put down everything else you are doing and read carefully.
August 1947: Bernardo “Bernie” Carbo was born in Detroit, Michigan.
October 1970: Bernie Carbo was obviously safe at home in this play at the plate in Game 1 of the 1970 World Series. The Reds lose Game 1 to the O’s by one run. The Reds lose the Series in five games.
May 1972: The Reds trade Carbo to the Cardinals for Joe Hague.
October 1973: Bernie Carbo was traded to the Red Sox in a four player deal. This was obviously the greatest day of Bernie Carbo’s life up to that point.
October 1975: Red Sox pinch hitter Bernie Carbo hit a three-run, game tying home run against the Reds in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, the greatest baseball game ever played. In the 12th inning, Carlton Fisk smacked his famous “stay-fair” home-run off the foul pole at Fenway. This should have won the World Series for us. We got hosed on a ridiculous interference call in Game 3. The Curse should have ended in 1975, not 2004.
August 1991: My mom took my brother and me to a baseball clinic being put on by the great Bill “Spaceman” Lee, the eccentric Sox lefty who always won 17 games and spent much of his major league career thinking of ways to piss off Don Zimmer. Lee had adopted Vermont as his home following his 1982 retirement.
We brought our gloves to the gathering, but it turned out there was no reason to. Bill must have been feeling old that afternoon. The “Spaceman,” along with his longtime running crew of Bernie Carbo, Dalton Jones, and Rodney Scott, lectured the 300 of us on how the game wasn’t played right anymore. I don’t recall the specifics of why that was the case, only that Lee concluded his speech by talking about the wooded area surrounding the field. He said back in his youth, if he wanted to cut down those trees, he wouldn’t use a chainsaw. He would have used an ax. Lee sprinkled this life-lesson with references to Carbo’s large belly. The “Spaceman” dismissed us after signing a few gloves and a few more forearms.
A bit disappointed by the baseball clinic, my mom treated my brother and me to sodas out of a Winooski corner store. In the bowels of a well-aged walk-in cooler sat two alien twenty ounce bottles of blue soda-pop. The labels said “A Treat: Blue Raspberry, Allentown, Pennsylvania.” I recall squealing with glee at the sight of the blue soda and punching the bags of Wise potato chips on the adjacent shelf, Clubber Lang style. My dad let me watch Rocky III earlier in the summer. For the next few months, I reacted to anything that excited me like I was Mr. T letting loose on the Italian Stallion. While I was pummeling the store’s merchandise, my brother retrieved the sodas and handed them to our mother. She placed them on the clear plastic top of the front counter. Visible through the plastic were all the bad checks passed at the store in the last year.
“You sure you want your kids drinking this,” the man behind the counter in the zubaz Miami Dolphins windbreaker asked my mom. She didn’t respond.
“Stuff looks like windshield wiper fluid. I wouldn’t drink it,” he told her as he rang them up. Mom handed him a dollar and told him he didn’t have to drink it, so he should keep his comments to himself. Then and now, she doesn’t take shit from anyone, especially if the situation involves her kids.
I guzzled my blue raspberry soda in the span of the Four Tops’ “Baby I Need Your Lovin,’” the first song that came on the radio during the car ride home. It tasted like a melted Flavor-Ice. My brother nursed his over the course of the day, finishing the drops in the bottle’s four feet right before he went to bed.
As of June 24, 2022, I haven’t seen another A Treat Blue Raspberry in a convenience store cooler, just pictures of them online. I’m considering a trip to Allentown (Where They’re Closing All the Factories Down) to find myself another bottle.