Memorial Day means a lot to me because I get to think about, even more than I normally do, my grandparents. My dad’s parents both passed away before I finished the second grade, and my grandpa, Ray, died before I even started school at all.
If Ray (whose full name is Ray Lewis Lutz, which I’ll be replicating when I have a son, because it’s an awesome name) were still alive, I’d probably be a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Instead, I went against the alignment of the stars and became a fanatical supporter of the Cleveland Indians. My grandpa and my dad watched, attended and listened to Cardinals games on the radio throughout my dad’s childhood and I know it would have been the same for Ray and me if I had gotten more time with him.
As it is, my emotions are directly tied to the Tribe. Even though I became an Indians fan at 11, some of my favorite early memories are sitting with my dad in his white Ford Probe as he tuned in KMOX 1120 AM and we heard Jack Buck through the fading signal out of St. Louis. We don’t share a team in common, but my dad is responsible for my love of baseball, and it ultimately traces back to my grandpa, Ray, who I remember today along with my loving grandmother Marcella.
Who do you think about most on Memorial Day?
For Wingnuts general manager, it’s his two grandfathers and his dad, Dick, who all served in the military. The Wingnuts host Armed Forces Night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium Monday night, and the positive thoughts the organization has (that we all should have, in fact) toward our service members starts with Robertson. He hates when I don’t put my hand over my heart during The Star-Spangled banner.
Here’s what Memorial Day means to him, in his own words:
“Why does Memorial Day mean a lot to me? Well, both my grandfathers fought in World War II. My grandpa Taylor, he was left for dead but made it out and he’s still alive. He took, like, a bazooka missile to the side of his head, and it screwed with his hearing and what not, and everybody else in his Jeep died.
“My grandpa Robertson served on an aircraft carrier in the Navy in World War II. I remember doing an interview with him in sixth grade, asking him about some things and some of the things that he saw, and you can tell when he was talking about it that it really bugged him. They’d pull up on the beach somewhere where the fighting had gone on between them and the Japanese at the time, and some of the things that he saw and the friends that he lost.
“But more importantly, my father was a master sergeant in the United States Army for 23 years. He wasn’t a master sergeant for 23 years, he retired as a master sergeant. But when I was 16 years old, my brother Nate was 14, Luke was 12 and Matt was 2, I remember very vividly, it was the summer before my junior year in high school. Me and dad were out in the shed working on my ’51 Chevy truck, my first truck. He got a phone call, and five minutes later we flipped the lights out and he said, ‘Let’s go inside, son.’
“The next day, he was gone. That’s when Desert Storm was happening, so for six months he was gone and I didn’t know if I was ever going to see my dad again. But we won that war fairly quickly and he got back and retired shortly after that.
“Memorial Day, our freedom, everything that we get to do, whether it’s work in baseball or come to the baseball game tonight — everybody that has served in the military has afforded us that freedom.”