Life’s Toy Department — In Praise of Baseball

Posted: June 1, 2016 in Baseball, Livin' in the USA
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“Baseball was, is, and always will be to me the best game in the world.”

–Babe Ruth

I’ve had a lifelong love affair with baseball, since I was a kid and played it. The only thing I could do was hit; every year I played, I led the league in hitting. But I had no power, was “deceptively slow” (long torso, short legs), had a weak arm, and was a terrible fielder. I was out of it by the time I was in my teens.

It was a bitter pill to swallow. When I was nine or ten, I desperately wanted to be a professional baseball player. But it wasn’t to be.

I gave up on the game and didn’t follow it at all until I was in my mid-20s, and sat around drinking and smoking dope with my then-GF’s babysitter, Lucy (the first-ever female graduate of the University of Idaho, in 1917), a really nice, funny, old lady, watching the 1975 World Series. The highlight was not, as commonly believed, Carlton Fisk’s home run. Rather, there were two of them: Bernie Carbo’s  two pinch hitting appearances and two home runs. (Yep, 2 AB’s, 2 HR’s) (Lucy shortly killed herself with tobacco; I was there in her hospital room when she died in convulsions from emphysema.)

Later in the ’70s, when I was still living in Boise, there was a Rookie League team playing at one of the local high school fields. Due to insane, restrictive laws (what else is new?), they couldn’t sell alcohol, but you could bring it in and drink it in the right field stands. I often went with three or four other reprobates, and we’d usually bring one or two ice chests filled with anywhere from two to four cases of beer. (Yes, your math is right.)

The best part was that the owner and the manager, Gene Craft, were both born-again Christians, and Craft publicly announced that he received his field directions from God.

Of course, we had huge fun with this: “Hey Craft! Jesus wants a sacrifice!” etc., etc.

After I moved to San Francisco and quit drinking, I went out to Candlestick Park on a regular basis. It was great. $2.50 for a bleachers seat, and they let you bring in food and drink. My favorite memory is of a dozen or so fish-belly-pale Stanford frat boys in the front row trying to start a “wave” (a definite violation of protocol at the Stick). A guy in the row behind me screamed at ear-splitting volume, “Go back to your fucking tanning booths, you goddamn faggots!” (Yes, that was what the Stick was like in the pre-PC era.)

Since I left SF a quarter of a century ago, I’ve been in Tucson. Due to an incredible (rather, all too credible) series of idiotic decisions by the local powers that be, we’re stuck with a $40+ million white elephant stadium down on the surface of the moon on Ajo Way, and no team — not even a single-A team in a city with a million people. There’s no point in going into it further; suffice it to say, the city and county governments have completely dicked over the local entrepreneur who’s been trying to keep baseball in Tucson, and would have done so without their interference.

But at least I have the Giants announcers, Kruk & Kuip (Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper),  on mlb.tv. They’re insightful, funny, and it’s really nice to see two guys who work well off each other and obviously like each other. It’s almost enough to restore my faith in humanity. Almost.

Once in a while a non-fan asks me, “How on earth can you take baseball seriously?”

My answer is always the same:  “I don’t.”

But it’s so much fun.

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