September 2011 will be history in a week and my son is looking forward to month’s end. It’s not because he has anything against Septembers per se, or September 2011 in particular. Why, then? Basically it’s because baseball’s regular season will be over at the end of this month. To say that my son is not a fan of what is arguably referred to as “America’s Pastime” is an understatement.
That’s entirely my fault. When I was a kid growning up the Maryland suburbs of DC, I was a huge fan of the Washington Senators baseball team. Being a Senators fan was a challenge, as they pretty much sucked. The old adage was “Washington: first in war, first in peace, last in the American League.”
But still I was a fan of the game. I played second base, and occassionally right field, for a little league team, the West Carroll Knowles Knockers. (Yeah, seriously, the team was named “The Knockers.”) I wasn’t a particularly talented player, either offensively or defensively, but I loved just being there on the field and playing the game.
The Yankees were pretty much the perennial champs of baseball when I was growing up. It seemed that they played in the World Series every year. While I hated the New York Yankees back then (my favorite movie musical was “Damn Yankees”) as much as I do today, I loved baseball and I would listen to World Series games on the radio.
I vividly recall sitting at the kitchen table listening to game five of the 1956 World Series. The Yankees were playing the Brooklyn Dodgers (yes, Brooklyn...that’s not a typo) and Yankees pitcher, Don Larsen, pitched a perfect pame...the only perfect game in the history of the World Series. And I watched it...with my ears. It was thrilling.
But I digress. My neighborhood pals and I would take the bus and trolley to Griffith Stadium to watch Senators home games as often as we could. While they rarely won, I loved the baseball park experience. And I never missed listening to away games on the radio.
Then the unthinkable happened. When I was 14, my much-loved (and much-maligned) Senators up and moved to Minnesota to become the Minnesota Twins. I was old enough to understand that it was just a business decision prompted by years of poor attendance and battles with city officials. But that understanding did nothing to assuage my hurt. I was devastated.
Lo and behold, just a year later, a new team with new owners came to town and the “New Senators” played baseball in DC for another decade. Like the “old” Senators, they were a pretty bad team. In fact, the New Senators continued the tradition of their predecessors by maintaining a lock on last place in the American League. But this was my hometown team and I was loyal. Until I turned 26, when the New Senators up and moved to Texas to become the Texas Rangers.
I was not at the ballpark for the final game of the New Senators, but it was ugly. RFK Stadium was filled with angry, jilted fans that continually interrupted play by throwing things onto the field, which continued throughout the game and into the ninth inning.
Even though the Senators were leading, the about-to-be-abandoned fans streamed on to the field and started a riot with two outs in the ninth. Order was unable to be restored and the game was forfeited, bringing an ugly end...until just a few years ago when the former Montreal Expos took up residence in DC as the Washington Nationals...to Major League Baseball in Washington, DC.
(The Nationals are living up to the grand tradition of Major League Baseball in Washington, DC by remaining at or close to the bottom of the standings.)
But I digress yet again. Twice jilted by my beloved Senators, and with no new, new Senators stepping in to fill the void in my heart, I swore off baseball. So by the time my son was born in 1982, it had been more than a decade since I last gave a shit about baseball. I never went to any baseball games, watched baseball on TV, or even read about baseball in the sports sections of my local newspapers. Twice dumped by baseball, I was not about to get my heart broken a third time.
Because of my antipathy toward baseball, my son was never exposed to the sport. I didn’t take him to games. We didn’t watch them together on TV or listen to them on the radio. I never shared with him the intricate box score statistics from the daily paper. We never even played catch in the backyard. I never instructed him on the rules or nuances of the game, much less on the skills to play the game.
It’s no surprise, then, that he feels the way he feels about baseball and is looking forward to the 2011 Major League regular baseball season coming to an end next week.
Despite the fact that over the past decade I have renewed my love and appreciation of the game of baseball, and though I am a rabid Boston Red Sox fan, I too, am looking forward to month’s end. I’ll explain why in my next post.