Bruenig: Mind games: baseball chatter as therapy

From John Bruenig at the Greenwich Time on October 28, 2017:

Mike McDermott humbly confessed “my memories slip a little” as he cut to the highlight reel of his 81 years.

He easily retrieved the familiar details: Serving as a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War in the 1960s; a career in corporate public relations for Texaco; moving to Greenwich with his wife, Anna Marie.

He had a harder time reviving specifics of his life around baseball. He tapped his fingers together as he tried to conjure the name of a former New York Mets star.

“He went to Cooperstown,” he said, referencing the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame in upstate New York. “What’s his name?”

The memory remained stranded in the on-deck circle. A broad smile unfurled beneath McDermott’s “Vietnam Veterans” cap as he surrendered, embracing humor rather than frustration: “Who’s on first?”


Exercising his brain with baseball trivia is exactly the reason McDermott was in the home of the Mets this sultry July afternoon. He was on a field trip with five fellow members of Dr. Michael Ego’s “Baseball Reminiscence Program,” which holds biweekly sessions at the River House Adult Day Center in Cos Cob.

Ego, a University of Connecticut professor in Stamford, is exploring whether the American Pastime can be therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease patients. In recent months, he shared his game plan in Cooperstown at the annual Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, and at the national conference of the Adult Day Services Association of America in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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Originally published: November 2, 2017. Last Updated: November 2, 2017.