Thirty years have passed. It was my most prolific year of baseball fanaticism having attended 60 of the 81 home games played at Yankee stadium in the Bronx. My, how things have changed since then.
For less than 5 bucks, I was able to get a round trip to the ball park on the subway, a bleacher seat, and a hot dog. I did that routine so many times that I was part of a group referred to, not only by the group but by the local press as well, as "The Bleacher Creatures."
Not even close to the commercial enterprise it has become, America's past time was still revered as such and there was a quality of sportsmanship and play that we only get rare glimpses of today. The characters were charismatic and colorful, far more than you see on today's game where if anything, many of the high ticket players are of all things for a professional athlete to be, prissy.
Mark "the Bird" Fidrych - he used to pat the pitchers mound before going into his wind up.
"The Mad Hungarian" Al Hrabosky - he would face the outfield and rub the ball vigorously while uttering something odd. Then, he'd pound the ball into his glove while spinning around before taking the mound.
Mike Hargrove - no player in my time spent more time absorbed in rituals that the most obsessive compulsive's would admire. Nobody grabbed his balls on TV more than Mike Hargrove.
Earl Weaver and Billy Martin - Watching a game with either of these two legendary managers ensured that you were gonna see a show. These two were classic when it came to arguing with umpires and getting tossed out of games. In more modern day, only Lou Piniella comes close to being as colorful.
Willie Montanez - if he drew a walk, he literally walked to first base.
Oh, the fun it was. 6 days until the Yankees begin their 2008 season and the last in the Yankee stadium that has been Yankee stadium since 1923, a stadium in which I have seen more than 400 ball games. Bring it on.