Monday, December 5, 2011

A LITTLE ABOUT ME

OBJECTS ON BLOG 
ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.
On July 28, 1971, Brooks Robinson committed three errors in a game for the only time in his career, allowing the Athletics to take a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning. In the bottom of the ninth, with Roland Fingers pitching, the first two got on and Frank Robinson blasted a three-run homer to left to give the O's a 3-2 win. I had just turned 9 and was in the stands watching my first game. I remember jumping up and down and hugging my mom and fans all around me. Despite watching my hero's worst game ever, it was one of the greatest moments of my life. 


*** 

My earliest memory of Brooks and the Orioles was in 1969, when the Metrosexuals pulled that stunning upset. I remember watching the five games after school at my baby-sitter's house. I cried after the final out and couldn't shake the image of that one jackass in a jacket who ran out from the stands to the mound to celebrate. Then came 1970. 
GO AHEAD, BITE THE BIG PEACH;
DON'T MIND THE MAGGOTS
.
The Orioles had to win the World Series in '70. I know I would turn only 8 in July but the way I figured it, my whole life was riding on the outcome of that season. I was so crushed in '69 that nothing less than a crown would do. I got my wish. And Brooks was the Series MVP.  As Ralphie says in A Christmas Story, "And all was most right with the world.'' That victory was like a Christmas present. With no chance of shooting my eye out. 


***

I would throw a rubber ball against our house as a kid to practice fielding. To make it challenging, I'd throw it at an angle, and I'd practice diving stops, mimicking Brooks. When I'd finish, I'd have grass stains and dirt everywhere and it looked like I had been thrown out of a speeding car. That passed for video games. 


*** 

Occasionally, I'd take my cards with me to the grocery store. While my mom shopped, I'd follow, head down, reading the backs. That passed for smartphone usage. 


 I SAY, CHIC-KEN GRIFFEY, I SAY!
When I got a little older, I'd watch The Game of the Week  on Saturday afternoons with my dad. Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek were old pals, not washed up has-beens or never-weres. That passed as reality TV. 


***

In addition to cards, I collected 7-Eleven Slurpee baseball player cups. I'm going to to do a post about them down the line (if I can retrieve them from the attic), but I remember during some hot Florida summers walking to a particular 7-Eleven and grabbing a Slurpee. There was a guy behind the counter who knew I collected and he'd take the cups out of the dispenser and sort through them for me, asking which one I wanted. I thought that was cool of him. 


NUMBER OF CARDS IN THIS HOSTESS SET: 32.
BLOOD-SUGAR NUMBER COMPLETING IT: 500.
Little girls play dress-up and little boys like me played mimic major-league players' batting stances in front of the mirror. My favorite? Carl Yastrzemski, who had a few. The one I loved was when he held the bat straight, with his hands near his left ear. I have a picture taken by my dad of me playing Yaz. I was a better poser than a player. 


WILL CLARK IS A FAKE.
On the subject of dress-up, I remember making my mom buy elastic to sew into my Little League stirrups so I could get them to pull higher on the calf. Another kid on the team came up with the idea and it spread like the flu. As a Little-Leaguer, playing the part is at least as important as playing the game.


***

I can't remember how old I was, probably about 5 or 6, when I got my first baseball glove for Christmas: a Sears & Roebuck Ted Williams model. That sucker was bigger than my head. When I wasn't playing ball, I could've used it to trap stray animals for the county. 


***

My dad loved going to Sears to buy stuff. He especially loved their tools and appliances. So he figured if the hardware is great ... Seemed like we bought everything Sears-brand: school clothes, furniture, jewelry, motor oil, fine art, kitchen knives, everything. If you came by to trade cards with me, chances are you would've thought you walked onto the pages of the Sears & Roebuck catalog. 


APPARENTLY MR. BARROW LIKED
 TO SHOP FOR CLOTHES AT SEARS, TOO.
Speaking of Sears sporting goods, I remember "playing'' tennis once with my dad. He liked spending time with me when he could and that was cool when I was little. When I reached my mid-teens, play dates weren't so cool. He had gotten on a tennis kick in the late '70s and took me along for the ride. I'm sure we stopped by Sears and bought the equivalent of the Ted Williams Model Tennis Racket (Rod Laver? Poncho Gonzales? Illie Nastase?). We went to local courts near the high school. Of course, either the high school team or some local club was there. Unfortunately, there was a court open so we progressed to aimlessly whack and chase the ball about. On one return, my dad swung, made contact but the ball disappeared. I heard it hit but didn't see it come off the racket. We met at the net to discuss this seemingly paranormal event, and that's when I saw it stuck in the frame (technically, the open throat). With us providing so much entertainment, I'm surprised that tennis team got anything accomplished that day.  
FIRST TO GUESS HIS IDENTITY
 GETS A FREE BOX OF CHICLETS.

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