A Crush on Orange

The rest of the room is stuffed with Bronco team pictures mounted in brown wooden frames and dozens of 8 x 10 photos of Bronco players past and present--Steve Atwater, Sam Brunelli, Kelvin Clark, Otis Armstrong, Steve DeBerg, Elway again. There are oversized front pages from the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News trumpeting the team's great moments--SUPER BOWL BOUND!--and a jagged, three-foot length of thick yellow pipe ("Goal post fragment!"). There are beer glasses and coffee mugs and ashtrays emblazoned with assorted Bronco logos, yellowed team calendars from seasons long past but not forgotten, half a dozen autographed official NFL footballs and three dozen pictures of Ralph and Jimmy. Cooking steaks in the parking lot at Mile High Stadium. Sitting orange-jerseyed, blue-capped and binoculared in their regular seats. Leaning happily against the Buick with a big poster of the Three Amigos suspended between them. Almost every square inch of the walls is crammed with Broncos memorabilia. Not much on the floor, but the soft rug is royal blue. With big orange polka dots.

"Had to have that special-made," Ralph reports. "Ever seen one like it?"
"Nope," the visitor answers. "Absolutely one of a kind. By the way, Jimmy, what's your house like? Your basement?"

"You don't wanna know," brother Ralph answers. "Jimmy here's got the rest of the Bronco stuff. Actually, that's not right. Fact is, he's got most of the stuff."

Seeing most of the stuff over at Jimmy's will have to wait for another time. Right now we're getting down to brass tacks about the remainder of the Broncos' season and the awful things that have happened at the end of some other great Bronco seasons. The nightmarish second quarter in the Super Bowl against Washington. The grim efficiency of Joe Montana and the Niners in the 55-10 debacle. Phil Simms, the New York Giants and the second half.

But Ralph Garcia doesn't scare easily. He looks you straight in the eye and never hesitates for a second when he says it: "This time the Broncos are gonna win the Super Bowl. Me and Jimmy, we're in at the Bourbon Orleans. And we can't wait. Isn't that right, Jimmy?"

Jimmy Garcia just nods. Because this time he's sure it will all work out. So is his brother Ralph. Because they remember. Both of them. They remember the time Tom Jackson returned the interception 73 yards for a touchdown to beat Baltimore. And that touchdown pass to placekicker Jim Turner. They know all about Number Seven's 36 fourth-quarter comebacks, and The Drive against Cleveland, and the Orange Crush, and Randy Gradishar's seven Pro Bowls. They remember $8 seats, and the night Elway was signed away from the Colts, and Al Denson's great catches, and the fog snorting out of Cookie Gilchrist's nostrils that time it was so damn cold in December when we played the Chargers.

This is the year, all right. Finally. "We been waiting a long time, and this is it," Ralph Garcia says. "Me and Jimmy, we both know that."

And remember. It ain't no bandwagon.

While the New York Yankees were savoring their first World Series win in eighteen seasons late last month, another member of their far-flung family left the earth.

Right-hander Bob Grim was by no means the most famous Yankee of his era--players named Mantle, Ford and Berra shared that distinction. But in 1954, as a 24-year-old rookie, the native New Yorker put together a 20-6 record. No American League rookie has had a twenty-win year since.

Grim never made quite so good again. He was 7-5 in 1955, 6-1 in 1956 and 12-8 in 1957--Yankees World Series years all--before vanishing into the hinterlands of Kansas City and completing his career at the end of the 1962 season. He lost both of his World Series starts (one each in 1955 and 1957), but he was a workmanlike professional, and we have always cherished him as a starter for our mythical All-Down-in-the-Dumps pitching staff: Bob Grim, Vida Blue, Sad Sam Jones, Jim Mooney, Billy Loes.

Grim, age 66, suffered a fatal heart attack in Shawnee, Kansas--after joining neighborhood kids in throwing snowballs.

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