As I’m working on some other projects, I’m watching a baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Oakland A’s. Neither team’s pitcher has much control, and its already 4-3 in the 5th. I’m rooting for the Sox, although I don’t recognize any of the players, simply because I live in Chicago now.
But I’m clicking into the Braves-Marlins game online, because my heart’s still with the Braves (Bravos up 5-0). I’ve lived in Atlanta for 14 years, and its been very easy to be a Braves fan because it is a quality organization that fields a winner every year. The pitching is almost always good in Atlanta, so its painful to watch a couple of marginal pitchers in this game in Chicago.
Truth is, I’m primarily a baseball fan, and I learn to follow the local team (and in Chicago I have two choices). And since I’ve moved a lot in my life, I’ve followed a lot of teams, and I still have an affinity for many of them.
I was born up the road from Cleveland (in Ashtabula) the year the Indianas won the American League pennant (but lost to the Yankees in the World Series). I don’t remember that. The first team I do remember getting excited about was the Pittsburgh Pirates, who won the World Series when I was in first grade (1960). It was the famous Bill Maseroski homer that did it, and I remember it.
We moved to Boston the next year, and although I never made it to Fenway, I remember getting some Red Sox autographs at a local bowling alley. Wish I knew where those went! I think Tony Conigliaro may have been one of them, but I’m not sure.
The first baseball game I went to was with my Dad. When we lived outside Allentown, PA (Emmaus) we went to Philadelphia and watched the Phillies beat someone, with Richie Allen (later Dick Allen) taking over the game with a homer and other extra-base hits.
When we moved to Iowa I was in junior high school and during those years I remember laying on my bed listening to the Cubs on the radio. Those were the days of Ron Santo, Ferguson Jenkins, and Billy Williams.
When I went to college in southern California and stayed several years to begin working, I went to a lot of Dodgers games at Chavez Ravine, and great place to watch baseball–with Tommy Lasorda fielding great teams–including the infield of Ron Cey (3rd), Bill Russell (SS), Davey Lopes (2nd), and Steve Garvey (1st); and Steve Yeager behind the plate. During these years (75 to 83), I also went to many Angels games at the big A. I remember the warm daytime games and beach balls more than any memorable teams there, although Nolan Ryan was pitching for the A’s then, and Gene Autrey owned the team.
Then it was off to Washington, D.C. in 1983, which didn’t have a team then; but Baltimore was less than an hour away. It was the Cal Ripken era, and Baltimore was the best baseball town I remember–first at Memorial Stadium in a Baltimore neighborhood, and then the great Camden Yards on the waterfront. I went together with Dave Carlson and other friends at Prison Fellowship, where I worked, to buy a partial season ticket for the Orioles for two years. I was at the opening game at the new Camden Yards, which the Orioles won.
Washington was making a play for its own team, still two previous Washington Senators teams had left for other cities–to become the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers. The local organizing group that was trying to convince Major League Baseball to give D.C. another chance was selling season tickets, which we bought. They named the team (which was not to be at that time) the Nationals, and I have the hat that I got as part of the deal. Since MLB made a different choice, we got our money back. Of course, DC eventually got their Nationals, when the Montreal Expos fled Canada for our Capital. The Nats are beating the Phillies tonight, which is a good thing (back to being a Braves fan).
After Washington, I moved to Atlanta to watch Bobby Cox lead the Braves to many division championships. But now, we will be in Chicago. Maybe I’ll lay on my bed and listen to the radio for old time’s sake. Go Cubs.