A Maryland crab feast in California
On the night before Eddie Murray’s wedding
Picking Maryland steamed crabs is a messy endeavor. You either know how to do it or you don’t. So only veteran crab eaters would think it odd wearing surgical gloves while eating crabs. In California no less. Yet this is what a small group of friends did on the night before Janice & Eddie Murray’s wedding at the condo of Brady Anderson and Rene Gonzales, both former Orioles.
I had flown out to California with my friend Diane Hock to attend the Murray wedding, and she had promised steamed crabs to Brady, Rene and friends. After carting them to the airport in a big box packed with dry ice, Diane successfully delivered the seafood securely to the dining room table in Huntington Beach where the Californians gobbled garishly with nary a spec of Old Bay on anyone’s fingers. When folks began to snap on white surgical gloves to operate on the crustaceans, I almost spit out a mouthful of Coors Light. Indeed, a funny sight to behold.
Yet not as funny as the little trick played on me the next day at the wedding. Some guy convinced me to ask a sturdy man at the next table for an autograph, claiming it was Barry Bonds. So I did.
“I’m not Barry Bonds,” the guy answered.
“Very sorry to have bothered you,” I said red-faced with a squint in the trickster’s direction. “Excuse me, I need to go visit someone who gave me the wrong information.”
I’ve never repeated that mistake. At least I knew what Eddie looked like.
The Murray wedding was a splendid event. I remember lots of balloons decorating the hall and lots of Eddie’s siblings (he has 11). Somewhere on a VHS tape in the Murray house is a long silly rhyming verse, which a small group of us had concocted as our congratulatory message for the new bride and groom. High on wine and the ambiance of marital bliss, we giggled hysterically during its’ performance. Seventeen years later, I am confident in saying that it was probably rather dumb. Well, we had amused ourselves in the creative process at least.
“I absolutely remember the video you guys made,” said Janice, “and I thought it was great … a window into Eddie’s friends I would come to inherit.”
Post reception, we had been invited back to the Murrays for a party in Santa Clarita. This stands as the single most gigantic house I have ever stepped into and probably ever will – a Swiss Chalet style house that could have been featured in a celebrity homes’ magazine: a ridiculous amount of bathrooms (11 – did he build one for each sibling?) and bedrooms (9), a wine cellar, a bridal suite, nine-car garage, an elevator, a cave room, an adorable girl’s room with a ladder leading up to a loft, a to-die-for kitchen that went on forever, and a long rec room with Eddie’s collection of baseball hats and a billiards table.
Even the glass and wood design of the front door was beautiful! The square footage went on for miles, but sadly my memory does not, or I could describe it in greater detail. In a 35′ deep lake out front – stocked with large fish – a beautiful swan paddled around softly (or did I dream it?) and peacocks wandered the grounds.
Ken and I had visited the Murrays’ home one other time, after a Dodgers-Expos game. We followed them home for a visit, and upon leaving, shook our heads in awe all the way back to Baltimore. The Murrays have since moved from that gorgeous home, yet still reside in California. We wish we could see them more than we do, which is not often.
Ken and Eddie have bumped into each other over the years at various stadiums, and sometimes the Murrays will fly back east periodically to attend an Orioles-related functions – and yes, to eat Maryland steamed crabs.