Apr. 3, 2017

Baseball Brothers Of My Summer

I was lucky enough to be born in 1954 in the City of Baltimore, Maryland which to me meant that along with steamed crabs, Berger Cookies, and living in the valley of East Baltimore. I got to enjoy Baltimore Orioles Baseball. In the winter of 1965, the Orioles acquired Frank Robinson from the Cincinnati Reds and suddenly the team's dynamics changed because the Orioles became the winningest franchise in the American League. This 30-year-old brother knew how to win and he energized the entire city. Well, I grew up following the greats black ballplayers of that age. I was able to see Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson, Maury Wills, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, Paul Blair, Joe Morgan, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Ferguson Jenkins, Ernie Banks, Willie and Tommy Davis, Willie Horton, Elston Howard, and all the other great black ballplayers in some way or the other. Oh, this was way before the MLB Package, ESPN, TBS, Comcast, Yes Network, Fox Sports. You couldn't see every game in the comfort of your living room. You actually either had to go to the stadium or have ready and available a transistor radio with a powerful antenna. You had to wait until This Week In Baseball highlights on Saturday's to see 30 minutes of action from games all over the league. The National Game of The Week usually involved either the Yankees or the Dodgers playing it seemed like the Red Sox or the Giants every other weekend. However, for me, it meant 60 visits a year to Memorial Stadium for General Admission Seats to see the Baltimore Orioles play. I loved baseball because it taught me mathematics, and critical thinking devising ways to out-think or out strategize the manager or analyze the pitcher. Plus the best part was beginning in at age 10 my Dad allowed me to catch the bus by myself to go to the games. It was summer and no school meant baseball every night the O's were in town. I know I missed some of those young brothers I saw growing up in my salute but each was very special in their very own way. Yes, we had the Colts and the Bullets but it was nothing like a summer night watching a game under the lights. I loved the game then not as much now because it was something pure about the game that is lacking now. Most likely I've changed not so much the game. Yet, Opening Day means very little to me now but when I was young I counted the days until the first pitch and followed every pitch and every at-bat from April to October. Enjoy my salute to those magnificent young brothers who made the game of baseball so enjoyable for me back in the day.