Do you remember your first Big League baseball game? I do. I was
seven years old and my grandfather took me to see the one and only Detroit Tigers! I idolized my grandfather and for him to take me made the experience that much more special. He loved the Detroit Tigers - he loved all Detroit sports in fact. He had a room in his house dedicated to sports memorabilia. It was his office but, I remember calling it the “baseball room”. The room is no longer filled with sports memorabilia but I cannot walk into it without going back two decades. Your very first baseball game is almost overwhelming to your senses. The smell of peanuts, popcorn, hot dogs, and stale spilled beer. The
sound of the vendors wanting you to purchase their product, the cheers from the crowd, the crack of the bat, or the smack of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt. I was so excited to be at Tiger Stadium with my grandfather, that during the National Anthem, as I stood there in front of our amazing seats behind home plate next to my grandfather who had his hand over his heart, I puked all over myself. When I was a child, I would get so excited about something that I would
get an upset stomach and become ill. It would come out of nowhere. Grandpa just looked down at me with concern in his eyes and asked if I wanted to go. “No Grandpa, I want to stay.” Grandpa bought me a Tigers shirt so I wouldn’t have to wear a vomit laden shirt all day. It was grey Jersey shirt and had the old school Tigers symbol on the front, and to this day I still own that shirt. It was a special day. I saw my favorite Player, Cecil Fielder, hit a home run. I saw Cal Ripken Jr. on the field. And I remember that the Tigers won.
I saw my first game at Ebbets Field on October 1, 1950. That was the famous game won by the Phillies over the Dodgers in 10 innings that ended the season and gave the Phils the pennant. The late Dick Sisler hit a three-run homer to save the Phils from an epic collapse, as they had blown all but one game of a 7 1/2 game lead in the previous ten days.
My dad had been given free tickets for the last game of the season weeks before, as no one else wanted them. When it became apparent that the game might mean something, all his buddies tried to get dad to take them along, but he was determined to take his seven year old son to his first baseball game, and so we went.
Nothing beat taking the train from New Jersey to NYC, then riding the subway to Brooklyn, and finally the several blocks walk to the ballpark, with the excitement becoming more palpable as we neared the park.
One would think I'd have become a Dodger or Phillies fan, but I was already a hard core Yankee fan. Got to see Joe D. play center field the next season, with the Mick in right, first time at Yankee Stadium. But that's another story...
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