Tuesday, March 25, 2008


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.


Essentially Me said...

All I did in 1978 was be born.

Chris said...

Essentially Me - It was a very good year indeed!

Rob C said...

I miss, so very much what was to us at the time a very much less complicated life.

When I was in grade school my grandfather used to tell me how he wished he was back in school in my place. For so many reasons that gets more clear to me every time I think of that.

We have lost so much passion in so many things in this day and age. Just my job to keep my kids young as long as I can. Would hate for them to loose that magic any sooner then they need to.

egan said...

Mike Hargrove actually played baseball? I thought he was just a so-so manager who quit midseason on his team. Maybe I've allowed the bitter Seattle Mariner fan to speak.

60 of 81 games is very impressive Chris. You're the master. I will argue that baseball back then did have its problems though. Look no further than the Comiskey Park disco riot and the numerous work stoppages back then.

You really can't beat the $5 price to get a ticket, subway ride, hotdog, and some good times.

Chris said...

Rob - I hear ya bro. Shea's coming down as well this year right?

Egan - the guy hit his own pecker far more than the ball...actually he was a career .290 hitter, but the fucker took about 20 minutes per at bat. Yes, there were issues - we can go back to the infamous "Black Sox" scandal all the way to 1919 - but it was still very different. Perhaps the relativity of change factors in as well, I mean I was just barely a teenager at that time and I had a very different awareness of the world around me.

egan said...

Mike Hargrove was a .290 hitter? Wow, that shocks me. Next you're going to tell me Dick Williams and Wilfred Brimley aren't related.

Chris said...

Dick Williams and Wilfred Brimely aren't related.

Just kidding.

They must be related.

Joy said...

Wow! What wonderful memories! It all sounds like a great place to grow up.

Chris said...

Joy - It was wonderful.