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Baseball

Posted by Andy on January 26, 2010
Pardon me as I make one of my rare non-stat posts.

This country, and probably the world, is clearly divided into two group: fans of the game of baseball and those who think that baseball is the most boring thing on the planet. For non-fans of the game, watching it is like torture. Even for most fans, especially those like me who never played the game, watching every single pitch can sometimes be dull. I can't differentiate all that well between pitch types and I know nothing more about pitching or hitting than one can learn from watching a lot of baseball (which I think isn't all that much.)

But why, then, do I love the game so much? Like most fans, there was a point in baseball history that turned me on to the game. It made me fascinated by the complex beauty of the game and ever since, I have loved every moment of Major League Baseball.

For me, the point in time at which my love for the game ignited was Kirk Gibson's home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. It was an incredible moment. I wrote about it previously here and here. The things that made that moment special for me were, in no particular order: 1) the underdog Dodgers beating the seemingly unbeatable Eckersley, 2) Gibson hitting a homer on such an ugly looking swing and in such obvious pain, 3) Jack Buck's simple and organic call of not believing what he just saw, and 4) Gibson's very cool and spur-of-the-moment fist-pump as he rounded the bases.

As time has gone on and I've watched baseball with many other folks, I've seen the love take hold of other new fans. One time was during the 1993 National League Championship Series. In Game 1, the Phillies beat the heavily-favored Braves (as they would eventually do in the series as a whole.) When Kim Batiste got a hit in the bottom of the 10th inning, the TV feed got a wonderful shot of John Kruk motoring around 3rd base when, even in the days before high definition, he could clearly be seen chewing like mad (not sure if it was gum or tobacco.) The friends I was with, who were all new to baseball, were giddy at the thought of somebody chewing while running home on such an important play. With much screaming as Kruk scored, these folks were absolutely hooked on the game.

Another case of new love for baseball occurred in 1997. I was sitting in the living room with a friend's family as we watched this game between the Pirates and the Astros. After the top of the 9th inning, the Pirates' Francisco Cordova had not yielded a hit or a run, but the Pirates hadn't scored either and the game continued. I explained to the family that no-hitters were rare but pitching 9 no-hit innings without the game ending was even rarer. I explained that if the Pirates could score in the bottom of the 9th, we would see an exceptionally rare feat--a no-hitter that ended without the winning team's pitcher on the mound. However, a young Billy Wagner blew away the Pirates 1-2-3 and the game went to extra innings. Ricardo Rincon retired the Astros in the top of the 10th without yielding a hit, and the Pirates got another shot at the rare event in the bottom of the inning.

After a couple of runners reached on walks, Mark Smith pinch hit for Rincon. I believe the announcer was Gary Thorne and that I watched this game on Saturday Night Baseball on ESPN. He mentioned how Smith was batting to try to give the Pirates the shutout, the no-hitter, and the win. Just as those words came out of his mouth, the pitch was delivered, and Smith absolutely crushed it for a very deep and very obvious homer and Thorne continued his sentence by adding, "...and he got them all!!!!"

Shivers went down my spine and those of everyone else in the room. It was an incredibly cool ending to a game and one of the most fun baseball moments I've ever witnessed. For people who had never witnessed baseball for, these people became real fans. I can even say that one of the people in the room that night went on to marry a major-league player who is still playing today. How about that?

Anyway, tell me your story of when you became a baseball fan.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 at 9:04 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

47 Responses to “Baseball”

  1. charityslave Says:

    The 1975 World Series did it for me. I was seven years old that October, and I am still a Reds fan, for no other reason than that when I was young, the Big Red Machine were the best in baseball.

  2. I do not remember the exact moment but I do know it was the 1983 season. I am a big Met fan, so maybe it was the hype of Strawberry back then. I still try to follow a Met prospect throughout his career. First it was Straw, then Jeffries, and now David Wright. Roberto Alomar was my favorite player and when the Mets signed him I was estatic. Too bad his best days were already behind him. Mike Piazza is my favorite Met.

  3. splint.chesthair Says:

    I started collecting baseball cards in 1985/1986 and watching games. I remember the 1985 NLCS watching that Cardinals/Dodgers and that had a pretty exciting finish. Then I remember the Cardinals getting screwed in the '85 Series. However, I wasn't really into it that year. I became fascinated with the wealth of information on the back of baseball cards. Before the internet, baseball cards were the best way to compare players and entire teams. I'd arrange the lineups and have mock games based on the stats. This led to a 1986 season where I could easily name every player on every team and tell you how many homeruns or strikeouts he had the previous year and give you an accurate estimate on any other stat. The Phillies and Mets were the only teams I could get on local television and I started keeping notes and stats of every game I watched in a notebook. As the Mets got better and better, I concentrated on them. Obviously, the Mets went on to win the series in 1986 with two great series against the Astros and Red Sox. So basically a team where I had dilligently watched every televisied game and kept meticulous notes on every player, ended up winning the series in one of the most memorable ways imaginable. How could I not be a fan?

    By the way, I'm actually a Phillies fan but I'll never forget the 1986 Mets.

  4. The 1961 home run derby between Mantle and Maris(and The Babe)turned me into a passion-ridden baseball junkie. Though a baseball aficionado prior, their HR race converted me from big fan to pathologically obsessed fan.

  5. Link is actually incorrect for the 10-inning no-hitter game (currently the same as the Gibson game): http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT199707120.shtml

    I was actually at that game at the old Three Rivers Stadium, with my dad (it was even my parents' anniversary, yet he took me to the game! That's how I remember the exact date, to find the corrected box link), and indeed, what an incredible event to witness, simply transcendent to share it with my dad. I swear it's true: the game had already started while we were still headed up the escalators to the upper deck -- when Cordova retired the Astros in the top of the first, I asked my dad if he had ever seen a no-hitter in person, and he said he hadn't...little did we know what we were about to see! The electricity in the place was really something, as the drama built throughout the game (sadly though, an excitement all too rare for our Pirates during this infamous sub-.500 season streak). We especially loved the "No Soup For You!" Seinfeld reference flashing on the jumbotron when Cordova finished the 9th. No one really knew how exactly to react -- we knew we were seeing history, yet the game still wasn't over! Smith's no-doubter set off pandemonium, and on Fireworks Night, no less -- nobody wanted to leave the stadium. Unforgettable -- with apologies to Tim Kurkjian, that's why baseball is so great: when you go to a baseball game, it's possible that you'll see something that's never happened before!

  6. Not to monopolize the comments here, but it also occurred to me that the Pirates and Astros began that series after the All Star break virtually tied for first place (Pirates pct. points ahead). The Astros had also shut out the Pirates in the first two games, meaning that at the end of the 9th inning of the no-hitter (third game of the series), it was still 27 straight scoreless innings for the Pirates. Smith's homer emphatically ended that drought and pulled the Bucs back into the virtual tie (Astros pct. points ahead) -- the Astros would finally secure the division from the Pirates in the last series of the season (the last time Pittsburgh actually contended, yeesh).

  7. You and I sound pretty similar, Andy. I never played the game either (unless poor attempts at t-ball and softball count), so there are many technical aspects of the game I'm not good at analyzing. I've always loved watching baseball and looking at the stats though.

    I don't have a defining "that's when I became a fan" moment. My father was a huge fan (and a good player in his youth), so there was just this subconscious understanding in our house that baseball was the most important of all the sports. The 1995 season is when I really began following games on my own, and when my father got me the MacMillan Encyclopedia I spent way too much time reading it and learning the history of the National Pastime. It all added up to make me the baseball geek I am today.

  8. I've never not loved baseball, but my first recollection is 1998. Yep, the 'roid fueled home run chase had a lot to do with it, but what I remember most clearly was an exciting All-Star Game. I still have it on tape, and will watch it from time to time. As I recall, it featured wild pitches, runners gunned down at the plate, and a towering Bonds homer!

  9. The game that made me like baseball was the game played on May 4, 1871 between the Cleveland Forest Cities and the Ft. Wayne Kekiongas. It was a gnarly game, and I got the first hit in MLB history.

  10. I guess I have to say this:
    Baseball is a boring, poorly run, badly managed, so-called sport filled with overpaid drug addicts.

    The only good thing about baseball is the stats (which is why I pay for this site and never paid to go to a baseball game in my life)

  11. AlvaroEspinoza Says:

    I was 10 and at Yankee Stadium. Melido Perez got rocked by the Angels and the Yankees went down 8-0 in the 2nd inning. The Yanks chipped away all game and walked off in the 9th with a 9-8 win on a Pat Kelly base hit.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA199307250.shtml

    And I learned to never leave early!

  12. I think it was when I hit my first home run in Little Nippers league when I was 9. Truth is, I was playing before I ever followed MLB! The game was so much fun then. I do like Dave's stat-only approach! I'm still trying to understand all of the calcs and it's going to take a while...

  13. Mark: thanks for pointing out my link mistake

    AlvaroEspinoza: I watched that game from start to finish on TV! That was indeed a good one. I also remember the Phillies-Pirates game when the Bucs went up 10-0 in the first inning but the Phillies won 15-11 and the broadcaster, Jim Rooker I believe, said he'd walk home to Pittsburgh if the Pirates lost, and eventually he did as a charity event.

  14. Mine was a no-hitter too, but there's no link for it. Eastern League, Bowie Bay Sox at Reading Phillies, early September 1993. Three or four different guys combined for Reading, including Greg Brown and Toby Borland.

  15. The 1964 Phillies, believe it or not. My father and I were born in Philadelphia and I grew up only 25 miles from the city in south New Jersey.
    As a 7-year old I kept a scrapbook of that season, cutting out box scores, pictures and stories from the newspaper. I have the entire colossal collapse documented - pre Internet - in game-by-game fashion.
    I became a fan of Richie Allen, Johnny Callison & Wes Covington. I don't remember, but I probably expected every season to be that exciting. Sadly, the mid to late 60s Phils teams were a sorry bunch.
    It did teach me to be a fan, and that you can't jump from team to team merely because they're winning.
    I kept scrapbooks through 1968 when the futility got to me, but remained a fan of both the Phillies and the game.
    I've been a season ticket holder since 1981 and also have tickets to the nearby Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC advanced A affiliate) and spend many evenings watching the MLB package on cable.

  16. It seems I have a lot in common with some readers...I too have been to a Wilmington Blue Rocks game.

  17. I grew up in Cleveland during the 90's when the entire city became baseball fans. The first game I ever went to was in old Municipal Stadium back in '92. The team was pretty average at that time but there was some excitement over some youngsters named Lofton, Thome, Baerga, Belle, and Nagy. Well the Indians won the game on an Albert Belle home run, and I decided that he was going to be my favorite player (that kind of fell apart). With the run the Indians had in '95 I was hooked for life. Other contributing factors: my parents were huge baseball fans, I've always been a stat geek, the movie Major League.

    Random funny story, I once turned down a Shaq rookie card in favor of a Belle rookie card thinking this Shaq guy is all hype, but Belle is going to be something special.

  18. For me it was the mariners run of 95, and Johnson coming out of the bullpen.

  19. chrome agnomen Says:

    for 50 years i suffered the trials of boing a red sox fan, as my dad before me, until 2004. but playing on the sandlot, and watching the springfield giants in the eastern league really did it. i saw guys like cepeda, mccovey, marichal, jim ray hart, and dozens of others when just a lad. being that close, and being so young, those guys were like true giants, just lashing the ball out of sight. baseball is my oldest and, really, only true love in sports.

  20. My initial reaction on reading this post was, "I didn't have a moment like that." Then I thought about it. I played t-ball when I was 7; it would have been 1983. In August of that year, I went to my first baseball game as an end-of-the-season team outing. It was a game between the Orioles and Red Sox at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. We had nosebleed seats which led to a great view of the entire field. I asked the adults around me all kinds of questions. "Why isn't he standing on the base?" (No leads in t-ball, you know.) I know that Jim Rice hit a home run in the game, and that sure caught my attention too. The one thing that really stuck with me though, was seeing a double play turned for the first time.

    The next year, I was the second baseman on our t-ball team. In one game, a kid hit a single to left field. The left fielder, did what he was supposed to do, and threw the ball in to second base, where we got a runner out. I immediately turned and threw the ball on to first base. My coach (my uncle, who was also my coach the year before) asked what I was doing. I replied, "I was trying to turn a double play."

    I would later play ball in high school and a local wood bat league during and after college, mainly as a second baseman who couldn't hit my way out of a paper bag. I could turn a double play pretty well, but that was about the only thing I did well on the field. :-) I still love baseball though, and it all goes back to that game in Baltimore.

  21. While I went to many games as a youth and have my father to thank for my love of baseball, it was the nights sitting around the house watching him play Strat-o-Matic with friends. It taught me the finer points of the game, the love of stats and I still am a Strat addict.

  22. DoubleDiamond Says:

    When I was seven years old in 1959, we lived in a duplex house, with practically a shared front porch with the family next door. That October, they filled me in on the details about these baseball games being played by two teams called the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers called a World Series. So, each day, I asked them who won that day's game (and they were all day games back then, although the ones from L.A. were no doubt in the late afternoon in the Eastern time zone). Finally, they said that the games were over, and the Dodgers had won this series.

    I knew what baseball cards were even before then, and somehow I eventually made the connection between the players pictured on them and the type of games that my neighbors were watching. It turned out that my father was a fan of this sport, too, as were a lot of the other people I knew, so my interest in the sport was encouraged.

    I have not been to that many games at any level. Before May 9, 2009, I had never been to a high school baseball game (not even during my own high school years - I attended a small private school that didn't have sports teams then) or a no-hitter at any level. Before August 29, 2009, I had never thrown out a first pitch at a game or attended a doubleheader, again, at any level.

    On May 9, 2009, while I was visiting another female baseball fan acquaintance who lives in upstate New York, she told me that the son of a friend of hers was pitching for the local high school that day and that we ought to go see him. So we did. And he even pitched a no-hitter!

    On July 29, 2009, I was chosen to be one of several first ball throwers at a Trenton Thunder game against the Harrisburg Senators. Due to an earlier rainout, it was going to even be a doubleheader. However, those games got rained out, too. We used our rainchecks exactly a month later against the New Britain team. This was also a doubleheader. I went to the community affairs office and mentioned how I didn't get to throw out the first ball the earlier time, and they put me in the lineup to do it that night. This was actually done between games.

  23. I think I would break my answer into two parts. The first was Game 6, 1986. Even though it was a Saturday, I was 10, and was in bed. Asleep, even. But my dad's screams woke me up and when I came downstairs, my parents told me to sit down and watch the replays of Mookie's dribbler. I stayed up the next night to watch Game 7.

    And then the second part of my fandom came two years later, in 1988, when the Mets lost to the Dodgers in the NLCS, and I felt the disappointment of a playoff loss. In 1986, I was just starting to get into the game. By 1988, I was a full-on fan, to the point where I knew of Gregg Jefferies before he was recalled from the minors. In '86, I didn't understand where Dave Magadan had come from or where he'd been the first half of the season. So in experiencing heartbreak at the end of the season and then watching the Dodgers go on to win the Series (and yeah, Gibson's homer gave me chills, too), I was fully invested in the Mets. It's been a rough 22 years since.

  24. Season 1985-86, Dominican Winter League. The first professional baseball game I attended was the defunct Caimanes del Sur (Southern Caimans) visiting Aguilas Cibaeñas (Cibao's Eagles) at Cibao Stadium. Don't remember the exact date but the score was a my loved Aguilas' win 1-0.

    I was convinced of my predilection when Las Águilas won that year championship over their archrivals Tigres del Licey (Licey Tigers) and how my family and some relatives celebrated that title. I even remember the music that was popular then and I relate it with that championship. Unforgettable.

    Later, in that year’s fall I follow my first MLB postseason: Extra inning between Astros and Mets, Angels and Red Sox and that ball between Buckner’s legs. Again, unforgettable.

  25. The 1959 World Series was my introduction to MLB. I was eight years old. My early Dodger heroes were Larry Sherry, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider. It was exciting to have the World Champs in LA.

  26. WanderingWinder Says:

    I don't think I had a particular moment, though I've loved baseball since before my memory is really solid. I seem to vaguely remembering asking my dad about the rules, specifically the tagging up rule. Interestingly enough, my parents have told me that they subscribed to the newspaper specifically because I would read the sports section (primarily for baseball) - as I was 5, it was about all I was interested in enough to read.

  27. Zoroaster Regna Says:

    My first game was with my great uncle Burt, on July 12, 2003. (I looked it up.) Anyway, Uncle Burt is the proud owner of Red Sox season tickets, and he figured it was time for his 7 year old great nephew to be shown the light. It was an amazing game - the first series the Cardinals had been at Fenway since the '67 Series. And the game itself was incredible. Jason Varitek hit a pinch-hit home run in the ninth, Nomar Garciaparra tied the game not once but twice - both times with the Sox down to their last one or two outs - and in the end, the Cards, sadly, came out on top, 8-7, in 13 innings. Needless to say, Nomar was my favorite player until he left, and I still don't know why the Sox ever played Jeremy Giambi. But the experience has stuck with me, the 2004 WS win strengthened it, and I remain a (relatively) lonely Red Sox fan in Wisconsin.

  28. dukeofflatbush Says:

    i don't care when i became a fan.
    your words, while not always eloquent, said it all.
    there is a giddiness and kiddish love-affair with the sport that all fans harbor.
    while not easy to put into sensible dialogue or discourse why or how this game means so damn much to "us"...
    i think you hit it out of he damn park...
    and you gave us all a reason to remember why it is, we love this game.
    i don't think there is a reason or game that goes beyond what you wrote, that can better explain anyone's love of he game...
    just keep writing.

  29. For me, I grew up with everybody on my mom's side of the family being Mets fans, and it was the late 80's and early 90's (just before the "worst team money could buy") era, when they still had Strawberry, Gooden, Cone, etc.

    By the time I began to really follow baseball, though, all those guys had moved over to the Yankees and my dad and I started watching their games early in the miraculous 1998 season. Two back-to-back games in the regular season hooked me in for life, and they couldn't have been less alike: the first was May 17th of that year, when Boomer Wells pitched his perfect game against the Twins. The thought of someone retiring every batter to face him, major league hitters being done in by a pitcher having an afternoon only a handful of pitchers have had before, really captivated me.

    The Yankees' next game, following an off-day, was against the Orioles at the Stadium. I knew that New York and Baltimore had battled each other for supremacy in the AL East for the last two seasons, and when Bernie Williams hit an upper-deck homer off Armando Benitez in the eighth to give the Yankees the lead, I almost knew what would happen next. Benitez hit Tino Martinez, who eventually became my favorite Yankees player, between the numbers with a fastball. Both teams came charging out of the dugout. Every Yankee from 6'7" Australian Graeme Lloyd to 5'11" inner-city kid Homer Bush was out for blood. Benitez was ejected. Strawberry, uniform shirt hanging out of his pants, had to be restrained by Joe Torre. After order was restored, Tim Raines hit the first pitch into the right field grandstand for a two-run home run. Twelve years later, I still can't bet against the Yanks when the game is on the line.

    It's interesting I came across this particular thread tonight; earlier today I posted on my own blog about some other key Yankees games from the "dynasty years." All you Yankees fans can read about that over at http://patlavery.blogspot.com/2010/01/after-two-week-hiatus.html

  30. I had always been a baseball (and Phillies) fan, but as a 14 year old at the time, I was becoming jaded. I had never seen my boys make the playoffs (I was two in 1993 so clearly I don't remember this) and years of near misses were getting old. However, a late August four game series against the Mets changed all that, beginning with this game:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI200708270.shtml

    I attended the third game of that series, which ended on an interference call.

    We swept that series and I was officially hooked on the thrill of the playoff race, which of course led to a love of the entire game itself (and a deep hatred for the Mets). I think the number of Phils games I've missed since that series is in the single digits.

  31. Sorry to double post, but I wanted to correct myself before someone else does.

    I was 16 in 2007, not 14. Not really sure where my math mind was there. My apologies everyone.

  32. No problem with double posting.

    I am loving these stories--keep them coming!

  33. Great article! I have been a huge baseball fan for my entire life, but there have been many moments that have made me even a bigger fan. Most recently, I was lucky enough to have tickets to the MN Twins versus Detroit Tigers game 163. I have never been in a more electric atmosphere when Carlos Gomez scored to win the game. I get goose bumps while thinking about it. I am a huge MN Twins baseball fan, so the 1987 and 1991 World Series were also huge in my baseball background.

    Due to all these influences and all of my personal youth baseball stories during my life, I have became a die hard baseball fan. I have even recently started a new web site called http://www.my-youth-baseball.com for the purpose of educating youth baseball coaches, parents and players about drills and strategies that will assist their team in improving their performance on the field. 

    It has been my experience that most league coaches are parents trying to do the best they can, but may lack knowledge or expertise in developing young baseball players.  At my-youth-baseball.com, I try to give them basic information and strategy that will most certainly aide them in the development of their team.

    Check this site out. You can even register to receive my free Youth Baseball Zone E-Zine at: http://www.my-youth-baseball.com/youth-baseball-zone.html

    Once again! Great article. I love conjuring up all those great baseball memories!

  34. Bryan Mueller Says:

    Like many of you, there have been many moments that have made me a bigger fan. My earliest memory of a game was in the late 1980's. I was only 4 or 5 years-old and it's funny that I don't remember many of the particulars, but the Cubs (they were and still are my team) were down by quite a few runs in the late innings of a game. Normally my only exposure to baseball was when my older brother was watching it, but this game was different. Slowly the Cubs eeked there way back...I remember watching intently as Cubs drew walks and got base-hits that somehow made their way between the SS and 3Bman. I even remember an outfielder dropping a routine fly ball to score a run or two. As the Cubs drew closer and eventually went ahead I was screaming and hollering at the TV and when they won I felt like they had just won the World Series. If I remember correctly the game was just a game during the season...there was no division or placing in the standings on the line. However, when people ask why I love the game so much...it usually brings me back to this memory.

  35. My love affair with the Game started like it does for many American boys, when my dad took me to see Frank Howard and the Senators play in the late 60s and early 70s in RFK. I remember the handful of games Curt Flood played for them their last year there and I also watched Denny McClain pitch. Then the Senators left DC and I got to be bummed that the Pirates beat the Orioles in the WS, so much so that I hated the Pirates team card I got the next summer when I started collecting baseball cards in earnest (usually 12 cents a pack but one day I got a boatload of them for 6 cents a pack!).

    I remember being horrible in T-ball and a few years of Little League but still playing pick-up games in any street, yard, park, or schoolground we could find. I remember riding my bike around with my glove slung onto my handlebars.

    I became aware of Hank Aaron's chase of The Babe by reading the baseball stats in the World Almanac and Book of Facts I pored over endlessly. Numbers, baby, gimme the numbers! I remember jumping up and down when he hit his homer in the '72 All Star game.

    As fortune would have it, of course, I ended up moving to Pittsburgh in '75 and have been a loyal fan ever since (as pointless as that has become...). They chased the Phillies unsuccessfully for the latter half of that decade until finally catching them in 79. I remember them spiritually breaking the Phillies' back when, riding up Bigelow Boulevard, Chuck Tanner sat the 4-4 Lee Lacy to pinch-hit John Milner who blasted a grand slam to cap a 12-8 win after having been down 8-0, one of the first times that ever happened. Naturally I was sure the Orioles would win that time since I was on the other side of the trade, but good fortune prevailed! The Fam-A-Lee season was one for the ages.

    I remember awful Pirates of the mid-80s (I came back to town from the Army to see Sid Bream hitting cleanup and the Bus blowing a lead on several errors) and watching Dave Parker and others succumb to the temptations of cocaine, that probably kept him out of the Hall of Fame, which I will always regret.

    I remember the Bucs of the late 80s and early 90s finally getting it back together (inspired by Field of Dreams many fans brought bundles of cornstalks to the playoff games in '90), going to a LOT of games at Three Rivers (which was a perfectly fine stadium as longs as the team didn't stink out the joint) and the heartbreak of the by-then glacial Sid Bream beating our Bonds' throw to end things in '92. I remember the hope in early '93 as the rebuilding team with Martin, Garcia, and Young opened up 3-0 before reality set in.

    I endured the strike with a broken heart and rejoiced when they managed to resolve it without screwing Cal Ripken, whose game 2131 I watched from a hotel room in Kansas City.

    I remember the Freak Show '97 season when they almost won a weak division, only falling out of contention in the final days.

    I remember the anger as the six-county region voted down government funding of new stadiums by margins ranging from 3-2 to 5-1, only to see the powers that be build the stinkin' things anyway. I remember basically never paying for another game after that, and it’s not currently my play to ever do so again.

    I watched "The Chase" with as much interest and joy as anyone, then I watched Barry Bonds go wild, and then get screwed out of the playing time at the end of his career that would have allowed him to set even more records and reach even more milestones.

    I watched the idiocy and recriminations from the steroids era that I've railed about elsewhere. I watched people pile up stats both good and bad, check the box scores every day, hate the Yankees but grudgingly grew to appreciate Derek Jeter and loved to see the awesome-but-flawed-but-human A-Rod finally get a ring. I've pondered trivia questions over beers with my buddies, argued players, teams and eras until my voice was raw, and generally had a great time mucking around with the whole thing. I despair of my team ever being competitive again, and I cannot believe that people are so clueless they do not understand that cities don't have economies because they have baseball teams but rather have baseball teams because they have economies.

    I'm watching the economy at large go down the toilet because some people think they need to have special advantages over others, be they left or right or just selfish or stupid. I love the sport and I love my country, and it's darn painful watching them all fall apart.

    All that said I'll be reading the arguments and analyses and boxes and stats tomorrow. And the next day. And the next...

    Because, and forgive me for taking so long to say it, because it’s the same for all of us, that's what I do.My love affair with the Game started like it does for many American boys, when my dad took me to see Frank Howard and the Senators play in the late 60s and early 70s in RFK. I remember the handful of games Curt Flood played for them their last year there and I also watched Denny McClain pitch. Then the Senators left DC and I got to be bummed that the Pirates beat the Orioles in the WS, so much so that I hated the Pirates team card I got the next summer when I started collecting baseball cards in earnest (usually 12 cents a pack but one day I got a boatload of them for 6 cents a pack!).

    I remember being horrible in T-ball and a few years of Little League but still playing pick-up games in any street, yard, park, or schoolground we could find. I remember riding my bike around with my glove slung onto my handlebars.

    I became aware of Hank Aaron's chase of The Babe by reading the baseball stats in the World Almanac and Book of Facts I pored over endlessly. Numbers, baby, gimme the numbers! I remember jumping up and down when he hit his homer in the '72 All Star game.

    I remember Ron Blomberg’s run at .400 the first year of the DH and, as if he needed more than his injuries to prove he really should have been one, his dropping what would have been the final out of a triple play when they did put him out there at first base that same year!

    As fortune would have it, of course, I ended up moving to Pittsburgh in '75 and have been a loyal fan ever since (as pointless as that has become...). They chased the Phillies unsuccessfully for the latter half of that decade until finally catching them in 79. I remember them spiritually breaking the Phillies' back when, riding up Bigelow Boulevard, Chuck Tanner sat the 4-4 Lee Lacy to pinch-hit John Milner who blasted a grand slam to cap a 12-8 win after having been down 8-0, one of the first times that ever happened. Naturally I was sure the Orioles would win that time since I was on the other side of the trade, but good fortune prevailed! The Fam-A-Lee season was one for the ages.

    I remember awful Pirates of the mid-80s (I came back to town from the Army to see Sid Bream hitting cleanup and the Bus blowing a lead on several errors) and watching Dave Parker and others succumb to the temptations of cocaine, that probably kept him out of the Hall of Fame, which I will always regret.

    I remember the Bucs of the late 80s and early 90s finally getting it back together (inspired by Field of Dreams many fans brought bundles of cornstalks to the playoff games in '90), going to a LOT of games at Three Rivers (which was a perfectly fine stadium as longs as the team didn't stink out the joint) and the heartbreak of the by-then glacial Sid Bream beating our Bonds' throw to end things in '92. I remember the hope in early '93 as the rebuilding team with Martin, Garcia, and Young opened up 3-0 before reality set in.

    I endured the strike with a broken heart and rejoiced when they managed to resolve it without screwing Cal Ripken, whose game 2131 I watched from a hotel room in Kansas City.

    I remember the Freak Show '97 season when they almost won a weak division, only falling out of contention in the final days.

    I remember the anger as the six-county region voted down government funding of new stadiums by margins ranging from 3-2 to 5-1, only to see the powers that be build the stinkin' things anyway. I remember basically never paying for another game after that, and I don’t currently plan to ever again.

    I watched "The Chase" with as much interest and joy as anyone, then I watched Barry Bonds go wild, and then get screwed out of the playing time at the end of his career that would have allowed him to set even more records and reach even more milestones, even if I do think the Designated Hitter is an abomination of all that is good and right with the Universe.

    I remember going to see one of Bonds’ last games, played in one of the last games at RFK against the Nats. I remember him aaaaaalmost hitting one out in his last at-bat--only to see it die in the left fielder’s mitt. I guess I was happy the Nats won, but that isn’t why I was there. I took shiny new wife because my dad and I couldn’t get it together to see the Pirates like we’d hoped and planned for 30-plus years. And yeah, I went ahead and paid for that game as a single exception to my rule.

    I watched the idiocy and recriminations from the steroids era that I've railed about elsewhere. I watched people pile up stats both good and bad, check the box scores every day, hate the Yankees but grudgingly grew to appreciate Derek Jeter and loved to see the awesome-but-flawed-but-human A-Rod finally get a ring. I’ve listened to games on a walkman during long runs and other outdoor explorations. I've pondered trivia questions over beers with my buddies, argued players, teams and eras until my voice was raw, and generally had a great time mucking around with the whole thing.

    I despair of my team ever being competitive again, and I cannot believe that people are so clueless they do not understand that cities don't have economies because they have baseball teams but rather have baseball teams because they have economies.

    Now I'm watching the economy at large go down the toilet because some people think they need to have special advantages over others, be they left or right or just selfish or stupid. I love the sport and I love my country, and it's darn painful watching them all fall apart.

    I’m sad that my first marriage didn’t work out so I could have a child to pass this all on to.

    All that said I'll be reading the boxes and stats tomorrow. And the next day. And the next...

    Because, and forgive me for taking so long to say it, because in the end it’s the same for all of us, that's what I do.

  36. I'm from the UK, and baseball didn't even factor on my radar until university in 2004, when my American flatmate Tim who supported the Yankees suddenly became incredibly morose in October. I remember wondering what could cause such strong emotions - he barely spoke to us after each Red Sox NLCS victory. Finally, I stayed into the small hours to watch Game 7 with him... and never looked back. I can't remember if there was a specific moment when I got hooked, or simply the general ambience of the feat, but I watched Boston clinch it at a WS party at a friend's apartment. My flatmate couldn't.

    So I've stayed up (the 5+ hour time difference is a killer) to watch the World Series every year since. I love having a game on in the background, even if it's just a radio. I was listening to a game last year, in July, White Sox versus the Rays. I wasn't really paying attention until about the fifth, and then the rhythm of the announcer's "Fifteen up, fifteen down" began to make me sit up. I watched the last three innings of Mark Buerhle's perfect game live - literally jumping up and down when Wise made his catch. To have had the chance to watch a perfect game like that - I might never have that opportunity again. That was magical.

  37. [...] if you haven't already added your baseball memories to my recent post about the moment that made you a fan, please do so. We have lots of great contributions there already but I'd like to read even [...]

  38. Steve Flanders Says:

    In the summer of '68, I was just about to enter kindergarten. On a rainy Saturday, my dad was watching a Cubs game (we lived in Michigan at the time, so I have to believe it was the NBC Game of the Week) and had me watch the game with him while we drank grape soda out of a can (my mom was out; she would never have let me drink from a can). The whole thing felt very grown-up. To this day, I have an abiding love for grape soda, my dad and baseball and I trace it all back to that rainy Saturday in Battle Creek, MI.

  39. 1984 - Brewers game at old County Stadium. I always thought Pete Ladd took the start, but he only started one game in his career, so odds are this wasn't the one. Probably was Moose Haas. I'll never forget that first moment of looking through the tunnel and seeing that field, though. Magical! I know Rollie Fingers pitched, and I feel like Yount hit a dinger. Maybe the P-I can piece together the mystery. Or maybe I've concocted this fantasy game in my head. In any event, regardless of who pitched, who hit what, or even who won the game (no recollection of that), baseball had me hooked 4-LIFE.

  40. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Brad, this looks like the best bet for your game, based on your vague memories: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIL/MIL198405110.shtml

    Yount homered, Fingers closed out a Moose Haas victory vs the Twins. Friday game, which seems likely for a kid to attend (as opposed to school night).

    Fingers only pitched 16 home games that season. Since that seems to be what you're sure of, you could check all of them to see if anything else spurs your memory. Yount homered in one other, on June 26.

    Ladd's one start was on the road, so that wasn't the game.

  41. Johnny Twisto Says:

    That was the third game of Kirby Puckett's career.

  42. When I was seven years old, in 1974, I was being treated at the local hospital for a tonsillectomy. My dad (a welder) was working on an addition to the hospital while I was being treated! On April 8, 1974, I went in to have my tonsils removed. I was worried---not because I was undergoing surgery, but because I might miss the game that night! Hank Aaron was going for #715!! My dad walked across the roof of the hospital where he was working, snuck in through the window, and made sure he brought me some food and had me awake when the game started. I remember Henry hitting the homer, then I went to sleep for about 20 hours!

  43. 1976 WS, I was 11 my younger brother was 10, we were pretty much like twins. Did everything together including getting picked on unmercifully by our older brother. Well he was a HUGE Yankee fan and that year they made their first series appearance in a long time and he let everyone know how they were going to trash the Reds. Needless to say, we (my younger brother and I) watched and quietly exalted as the Big Red Machine swept them! I initially became a Red fan later switching to the Mets when the Gooden and Strawberry era started. My hatred for the Yankees has continued to this day though.

  44. When i was 9 years old watching the 2000 world series with my dad. my dad is a HUGE mets fan and that set the tone for a life full of met missery to me!

  45. I don't really ever remember not being a baseball fan. I grew up in New York and my dad was a big Dodgers fan. In my formative baseball years (5-9), though, the Dodgers (& Giants) had moved to California and the Mets weren't around yet, so I became a Yankee fan pretty much by default (much to my father's chagrin). It didn't hurt that they won the pennant every year during that period ('60-'64). The Mick was my hero and it was a big disappointment when I realized that I'd never take his place in center field :-). My dad's company had box seats at the Stadium and my first few live games were there (until the Mets showed up and we went to Shea instead).

    The slower pace of baseball is one of the attractions for me. It's much easier (for me anyhow) to follow all of the action than in other major sports. There's time to think about the next move before the play starts and second-guess the player or manager. And of course, there's all of the stats to play with!

  46. For me it was Maris and Mantle chasing the Babe in '61. I had watched baseball on TV before that, and even played Little League, but that's the season I fell in love (and learned to read a box score). My first ML game was a Koufax victory against the Giants... http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/LAN/LAN196606180.shtml Despite it's ups and downs, times when my interest waxes and wanes, I always come back.

  47. I don't think I really had a definitive "moment" but I do remember a few certain times in my formative years... The first game I remember attending was in 1990 at Atlanta Fulton Co. Stadium. It was before the Murphy trade, and I got to see him as well as rookie sensation David Justice hit home runs. A talented young pitcher named John Smoltz got the win.

    I really started following game-by-game in 1991 when I was 8 and the Braves started playing good baseball.

    I wasn't old enough to have watched it live, but around that same time I continuously made my mom check out the 1986 world series highlight video from the local library...there are still certain replays and quotes from the broadcasters that are ingrained in my mind, and I feel like I watched it firsthand.