To every kid growing up in Arizona in the 60’s baseball was king. I played two innings in right field for Arizona Sash & Doors little league team, because everyone was guaranteed to play. Still despite a lack of talent I love to watch baseball and largely because the game hasn’t changed much in the last 150-years.
My wife and I were lucky enough to catch a Texas Rangers game this spring and I have been pulling for them ever since my Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles fell out of contention sometime in late April, that and the fact they are playing the hated St Louis Cardinals the Cubs biggest rival. The one thing that has changed about baseball is how and when we watch. During the 60’s there was no ESPN and ABC’s Saturday game of the week was the only chance we had to watch a game on TV. If we wanted more live coverage the Dodgers broadcasted their games in our area on the radio. Night games we listened to Vince Skully’s play by play in our rooms with the volume turned down on our transistor radios, because bedtime was 8:30 and west coast night games didn’t get over to near midnight. Day games could be listened to at our leisure, except for those played during school hours. Transistor radios were strictly forbidden at school even during lunch and recess. Radios would be seized and every kid knew you would be in big trouble. Your parents would have to retrieve your radio, and that presented a double dose of big trouble. No teacher ever accused me of being a model student, but even I accepted that finding out who won the days games would have to wait until after school. That was until the fall of 1967 when I was a 6th grader at Julia Keen Elementary. Like a lot of baseball fans I was mesmerized by the Boston Red Sox who had won the pennant after finishing in 9th place the year before. Add they were playing the hated Cardinals made it all the harder to sit in class knowing I could be watching or at least listening to the World Series. When the Series reached game seven it was too much for a 12 year-old to take. That morning after installing fresh batteries I hid my radio in my jacket and snuck it to school hoping no one would notice. I quickly ate my lunch and rushed to the farthest point on the playground. I turned my back to school and tuned in the game. Just about the time I thought things couldn’t be better from behind me I heard an adult ask who’s winning? Standing behind me was not just a teacher but the principle herself Mrs. McBride. Damn Cardinals I said without thinking. I don’t know what possessed me to swear to the head teacher, but my thoughts quickly switched to the impending reprimand. To my surprise she simply replied rats and continued on her way. I don’t know why I received the reprieve but knew better to question my good fortune. I quickly turned off and hid the radio and joined the rest of the kids in school. Tuesday I was watching the World Series when my wife came in to the room and asked who’s winning? Damn Cardinals I said once again with out thinking!