I had no idea that yesterday was Jackie Robinson Day marking 60 years since his official debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, making him baseball’s first black major league player. More than 200 coaches, players and managers wore the number 42 in his honor. I learned all of this when I returned home last night and read a blog posted by my friend, a Dodgers fan. (I don’t hold that against her.)
Yesterday I found myself wearing a baseball motif sweater, a gift from my Dad. (Don’t you just love the wooden baseball buttons?!) He had an uncanny way of finding the perfect fun sweaters for his wife and three daughters — not an easy task, I’m sure.
Dad was a real baseball fan. He held season tickets for years at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, and I had the privilege of going to the games with him there many a time over the years. Of course, when you went to the game with my father, you went to watch the game. He purchased a scorecard and taught me how to record the results of each batter. I learned to know the players by sight or by number, because, back in the day, the players didn’t wear their names on their backs. Dad pointed out the idiosyncrasies of different players, and I was happy to learn. Actually quite proud!
Dad always bought salted peanuts in the shell from the same man who sold them at the same spot game after game and year after year. We knew not to ask him for anything else to eat nor for anything to drink until the 7th inning stretch. Remember, I mentioned that we came to watch the game. Not to eat.
And we NEVER left before the final out! We might have moved away from our seats, but we never left the stadium. As soon as we got in the car, the radio was tuned to the after-game show. We would predict which player we thought had earned the “player of the game,” and listened to the interview throughout the ride home.
I hadn’t thought about those days for quite a while. We had season tickets until the Reds traded Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles. I could hardly believe it! I was sure that I would never attend another game. Ever. I did eventually get over it, and enjoyed many many games in the new stadiums in Cincinnati. Including the days of the Big Red Machine. Tom Seaver pitching for the Reds with Johnny Bench catching — can you beat that?
But don’t get me started on THOSE days … crazy fun!
If you’re in the States, go to a game for me. Sing “Take me out to the ball game.” Cheer like mad. ENJOY yourself.
(I’m sure I’ll get a chance to see the Chatham A’s play this summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League. But it’s not quite the same as the atmosphere in the majors…)