As we end the baseball season tonight (with a Texas Rangers World Series win I predict), I think back on my affection for baseball over the years…
I began to love the playoffs and the World Series when I was a kid. My first really distinct memory of the playoffs was when Mom picked me up in front of James Madison Elementary School in fourth grade (in Colorado Springs).
[well… here is where the disadvantage of having Wikipedia and the Internet at my fingertips. As I was writing that I thought I would verify my memory and can find no verification whatsoever. First, I’m thinking, “Wait, I don’t think I was even going to James Madison in the fall” (I only went to that school a few months) and then I look up and the Red Sox weren’t in even the playoffs during the years we were in Colorado. But, this is MY blog and we’ll forge ahead with my faulty memory that is so vivid in my head, okay?]
So, truly, it is FALL and I’m going to JAMES MADISON and the RED SOX were either in the ALCS or the World Series and Mom picks me up (… hell, if I’m going to make things up…let’s do it…) and I had just given a speech in front of all the teachers of the school to impress upon them the importance of being more welcoming to children from Texas and other states and received a rousing applause and standing ovation…
Mom picks me up and has the ball game on the radio and tells me that Carl Yastrzemski had been amazing in the series and we listened all the way home. Baseball series in those days had several games during the days, not all at night like they’ve gone to now. Mom also did all of her big ironing during the playoffs and that is a big memory. She would iron things like tablecloths and anything else that hadn’t been taken care of in a while and stand in front of the TV, watching baseball and ironing.
Where most kids get their love of sports from their fathers, I definitely got that baseball fever from Mother.
In the early 80s in Amarillo, we had a farm club for the San Diego Padres called the Amarillo Gold Sox. My introduction came to them when I worked at the radio station KBUY on the midnight to six shift and many nights a guy (who also had a long Polish name like Yastrzemski) would call and give me the Gold Sox final score. I had no idea who the Gold Sox were or why he was giving me this information at the time. Eventually I met the guy (their sports information guy) and found out a lot more about the Sox.
I was at KPUR and doing morning by the time I really got involved. We had about 8 seats available for the radio station. Jack and Patrick, who were maybe on night shifts or weekends at the time, were ALWAYS at the game and they developed the name “bleacher creatures” for their antics. Jack frequently wore a big green Afro wig and they were always deeply involved in the games. They would bring their girlfriends and friends and I was often among the group, too. I can’t say I went to EVERY game like they did, but I went to a whole lot. It was just the thing to do, the place to be. My morning partner, Dan, was the game’s announcer and my sportswriter friend Greg was always there to cover the games. I was friends with John, the team GM and Ted, the PR guy. And we were all peripherally friends with the team members and their wives. And some (eventually) big names played for the Sox: Dave Dravecky and Tony Gwynn to name a couple. I’d drop more names if my old mind could remember them… Andy someone and that blond kid for another. We also saw some of the greats play in the other dugout. Orel Herschiser comes to mind. It was a fun few years.
When I got to Dallas, I worked for the Zig Ziglar Corporation and they had four season tickets for the Rangers. Yes, THE Texas Rangers who will win the World Series tonight. Of course, none of today’s team was on the team then except their current owner Nolan Ryan (forget Wikipedia, I’m not going to check that fact, let me live with my fantasy). We had a large company so you had to request the tickets and be approved. The great thing for me was that anyone who had the tickets and then decided they couldn’t go knew to call me and offer them to me. I went a LOT during one season. I saw every American League team there was that year. And then when I traveled for work with the ZZC I went to see lots of teams play on their home fields, too. I enjoyed a lot of great baseball.
Unlike the baseball announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, I cannot tell you about a single play I ever saw and include the names of the teams, the players involved, the year, the weather for Pete’s sake, and the final score. I can remember seeing a guy steal home once and I remember when they had some outfielder or something pitch because they were so far ahead and they’d run out of pitchers. Ah, good fuzzy memories.
But I have thoroughly enjoyed this year’s series. I got into the ACLS games early because Mom was here visiting and that gave us something to do. We were listening that night that Cruz hit the walk off grand slam home run (listening because we were driving her home that night). And every game of the Series we’ve talked on the phone for a bit before, during, and/or after the game. It adds to some great memories of baseball.
Tonight’s game will be icing on the cake when every member of the Rangers hits multi-run home runs and St. Louis manages to commit a record number of errors and the Rangers take it in 9 innings with no back-and-forth scoring. My heart is too weak for another night of that!