Baseball Stuff We Loved


I fell in love with baseball as a kid and while we all grow and change, I can still remember certain aspects of the game and the way it was that will not come around again.

This has nothing to do with being better or worse, but just what is and what was. Because I grew up in Boston I became a Red Sox fan and going to Fenway Park, listening to Red Sox games on the radio, or watching them on black-and-white TV, was all part of my youth and all of that colors the way I see the game today.

When I was kid you could buy a bleacher ticket at Fenway Park for $1. Fenway always was a field of dreams.

Guys who played for the Red Sox in the 1960s still have their names stuck in my mind: Frank Malzone, Jim Pagliaroni, Gary Geiger, Chuck Schilling, Pumpsie Green, Roman Mejias, Gene Conley, Frank Sullivan, Don Buddin and Tom Brewer are some of them. Malzone was the only one in the bunch who could hit.

I used to go to sleep listening to Gurt Gowdy describe the games on the radio. My parents came in later and turned off the radio.

Once, I was listening to a Red Sox pitcher throwing a no-hitter and was too excited to fall asleep. I asked my parents if I could watch the end of the game on TV and they consented because it was a special occasion. I’m 90 percent sure it was Earl Wilson’s no-hitter.

Narragansett beer was the main sponsor (Hi Neighbor, have a ‘Gansett) and later learned the humorous commercials were voiced by Mike Nichols and Elaine May, who did a lot more with their show business lives than ads.

I remember when Tony Conigliaro was the Boy Wonder, leading the American League in home runs at age 20.

I thought Bill Monbouquette was the best pitcher in the world. (And he was good, just not great.)

I was too young to hate the Yankees and never did hate Mickey Mantle.

Saturdays you could watch those alien life forms known as the stars of the National League on the Game of the Week.

Baseball cards cost a nickel a pack. (I didn’t flip them or ever see any logic to attaching the cardboard gems to my bicycle to make noise).

All World Series games were played during the day and they were in progress when I got home from school to watch the final innings, like when the Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski hit that blast to finish off the Yankees in that 1960 seventh game.

Identification with my American League and your National League was stronger, so that meant I rooted for the American League in the All-Star game and the American League team in the World Series.

The first World Series I ever followed was in 1959, White Sox-Dodgers. I cheered for the White Sox, who at least had Sox in their name.

Although the Braves were in Milwaukee, we still rooted for them a bit because they used to be in Boston.

Scorecards cost 15 cents and they were not glossy magazines. Probably four out of six people around you were charting the game’s play by play.

You could buy a 12-pack of Red Sox 5 x 7 black-and-white pictures in the grocery store for 25 cents.

It made perfect sense to stay in the house on a sunny, warm Saturday afternoon to watch the ballgame on TV.

You could always walk up to the park at Fenway and buy tickets for that night’s game because the Sox never sold out.

I am too old, cynical, realistic, or what-have-you to pretend these things will come around again. So what one thing would I want as either a do-over or frozen-in-time that could possibly repeat itself?

Maybe just being able to decide at the last minute you wanted to take in a ballgame and you could drive right up to the ticket windows and purchase two behind the plate, without engaging a concierage, a ticket broker adding on fees, or having to know a Kennedy in order to get in.

Of course for that to occur the Red Sox would have to turn into the hard-to-believe they’re that bad Houston Astros and nobody wants to make that kind of sacrifice.

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