A Boy, The Great American Pastime and Love of the Game Restored

06 Nov

2015 MLB World Champion Trophy Home in KC

I grew up loving the game of Baseball, much like generations of American boys and Men had before me. I went to my first game at less than 1 month old at Kansas City’s old Memorial Stadium, taken by my Parents to see the KC Royals play the then Seattle Pilots (I have the ticket stubs). I was taught by my father and Grandfather how to throw the ball and hit it, collected baseball cards, and upon being given an old transistor radio; would catch as many games as I could on 810 WHB AM.
As I grew older, our Parents took us to as many games at Royals Stadium as possible. It sure seemed like I grew up at that ballpark: learning how to keep score, watching up and coming players like George Brett, Frank White, and Willie Wilson.
Then, my first year of High School in the Fall of 1985, not only was MY team, the Royals in the World Series, but they asked our High School Band to be the pregame entertainment for Game 7! It was a dream-come-true! I remember waiting in the bullpen to take the field and watching Brett Saberhagen warming up. Just the look of intensity on his face told me we were going to win. I remember being in formation in the outfield looking back toward the capacity crowd of over 40,000. And, of course I remember the whipping the Royals put on the St. Louis Cardinals which only ended when Right fielder, Daryl Motley caught the final out and jumped for joy! It was heavenly!
After that, how could that be topped? Had the best memories I’d ever have about the Game be complete before age 18? It sure seemed like it: over the next 10 years, the Royals waned as stars like Brett, White, and Wilson aged and begun to retire or move on. The GM that built the Royals moved to the Atlanta Braves and built them into a juggernaut, and Dick Howser, the manager who’d captained the team to victory in ’85 was taken far too soon by Cancer, along with one of the best relief pitchers of that time, Dan Quisenberry.
If that wasn’t enough, just as the Royals seemed to have found a good group of young talent again, the Game entered a Dark time. Many battles between MLB and the Players Union rose and began to eat away at the innocent joy of my childhood, and when I was in College, a true sin occurred: The players went on strike for higher salaries and the season ended up being cut short. No World Series. For one who grew up loving the Game the way I did, it was as if they’d taken my heart and tore it to shreds. In response: I began to distance myself from the pastime I loved and turned to Football, I felt most likely forever.
In the meantime, as I was fully invested in Football, Major League Baseball slowly resuscitated itself. It took time because many felt how I did. But I couldn’t allow my heart to be broken that way again, so I missed an entire generation of players, paying little more than passing attention.
Then, after many loosing years, some nearly record-setting bad, my childhood team, the Royals started to show life. Before I knew it, they’d caught nearly everyone by surprise and shocked the world by making it to the 2014 World Series! I couldn’t help but watch…and surprisingly enough, it was comfortable, like that old sweater one loves to wear. And even though they lost to the San Francisco Giants, they made me care again.
So, surprisingly, I watched many more games this year. At times it was frustrating, others were more exhilarating than I ever remembered! And surprise of all surprises: The Royals made it into the World Series AGAIN! And, this time, they left little doubt who was the superior team as they beat the New York Mets in 5 games!
So, I guess I just want to thank the Royals, my team. No matter how upset I was during the ’90s you were still my team. As much as I didn’t want to care, I always tried to check the standings. As much as the selfish players of the past turned me away from the game, the 2014 and 2015 teams brought me back. And, not a moment too soon, for I am now a Daddy.
Now I pass on that same American tradition: I teach my son to play catch…….I listen to as many games as I can and will get him his first radio so he can do the same…..I will buy him baseball cards and teach him about the great players of the game……I share the Game with him, because that’s what Fathers do, and that’s the Love of the Game.

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Posted by on November 6, 2015 in Sports


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