Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 Random Baseball Things About Towanda

Loved this idea from ShysterBall.

1. I was trying to think what would be the first major league game I ever went to would be. I think I might have gone to a Cardinals or White Sox game as a baby when my folks were on vacation, but I'm not sure.

2. I do have vague memories of going to a Cardinals game when I was little, and also to see the Orioles on a trip to Baltimore/DC when I was 8.

3. I have been to the following ballparks (in my family we refuse to call them stadiums...you play ball in a PARK): Cardinals (pre-their new ballpark), Texas (also pre-new ballpark), Houston (Astrodome), Royals (love the fountains!), Wrigley, Comiskey (original), Baltimore (pre-Camden Yards), Rockies, Seattle. I have walked around outside of Jacobs Field while on a trip to the Church House in Cleveland, but they weren't playing...it was the playoffs, and they weren't in 'em. I've also been to minor league games in Portland, Louisville, Little Rock, and Ashville. I'd like to visit all the ballparks before I die.

4. The one and only time that my brothers and I were ever taken out of school (besides for illness or orthodontist appointments...) was to go to the Royals Worlds Series parade in 1985 (we were living in Kansas at the time). We gathered up ticker-tape, which I kept in a bag in my closet for years afterwards.

5. We had a fairly good-sized backyard in Kansas, and we would play ball out there, my brothers and I and any neighborhood kids who were around. The bigger of the two apple trees was second base. Sometimes we'd put the radio in the window when the Royals were playing and pretend we were them. I always thought the jingle "Royals Baseball: Go for the Action!" was better than "Royals Baseball: Something Special In the Air!" They sounded almost exactly the same, but the second one was just cheesy.

6. I used to be able to rattle off the whole lineup of the 1985ish Royals. I still remember some: Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubizca, Frank White, Dan Quisenberry, George Brett, Willie Wilson, Amos Otis, Steve Balboni. My brothers will chide me for the ones I've forgotten.

7. I distinctly remember the Pine Tar Incident. We could not believe George Brett had been robbed! The next day, we were taking a family trip to somewhere (it may even have been Kansas City), and Mom read every bit of reporting on it out loud from the paper.

8. In spite of all these Royals memories, I am not a die-hard Royals fan...I do have a soft spot for them, though, and am loving that my neice is such a big fan (here she is running the bases at the Royals ballpark with my brother TBro):

9. My neice's favorite player is this guy. She LOOOOOVES him. The Royals' AA team plays where they live, see, and my brother has season tickets, good seats, close enough that Kila would toss balls and stuff to her all the time. TBro says he thought Kila got to where he'd recognize when my neice hollered his name. Pretty cool. We have a deal that when he starts playing regularly in KC (you can see he has just had a few ABs in the bigs), we will all meet there for a game.

10. Baseball is a family love, in case you hadn't noticed. The family pantheon is Ted Williams, George Brett, and Willie Mays. Mom and Dad went to a Cardinals game for their honeymoon.

11. yankeehating also runs deep in the family. My grandmother once threatened to throw me out of the car when I said I wanted to be a yankee fan. I was 7 or 8, maybe. I don't think she meant it...

12. My dad, brothers, and I have run a family baseball "pool" now for several years. We pick division winners, wildcards, pennant winners, and the World Series winner. The person running the pool then can add whatever other picks s/he likes, such as who will win the AL MVP and will Curt Schilling pitch this season or not. My mom is the judge in case of disputes. Which there are on occasion, such as the time TBro's category was "how many 'roid busts this year" (you had to guess a number), but then started counting any kind of drug bust. Exegete that I am, I had to call him on it.

13. The loser of the pool has to wear a yankee hat to a major/minor league ballpark the next season, and provide photographic evidence of such. Yours truly, last June:

That's right, I won't even show my face. The shame! Thankfully, I get to pass the hat off to SBro this year.

14. If you ever go to a ballgame with me, you should know I will want to get there as soon as the gates open to watch batting practice. As evidenced by above photo, at the Rockies ballpark, with Giants players in the background warming up.

15. We always eat peanuts (in the shell, half the fun is shelling them), in memory of my grandfather, who always shelled and ate peanuts at ballgames.

16. Last year for an assignment on embodied theology, I did a project on baseball. On my birthday, I had a bunch of friends over to watch the Rockies on TV. We ate ballpark food (including peanuts, of course!) and reflected periodically on the theological aspects of baseball. Some folks wrote their thoughts in a booklet which I had created, which I turned in with my own reflections, and a ziploc bag of peanuts for the prof. I made an A.

17. Metal bats are an abomination unto the Lord.

18. Remember those commercials, "chicks dig the long ball"? Not me. I love "small ball" -- good baserunning, steals, hustle. I think it's much more exciting. A home run should be a suprise, not just something you sit around waiting for, like the inevitable.

19. The closest I've gotten to a World Series game is a sports bar a few blocks from the Rockies ballpark, when they lost Game 4 to the Red Sox. The bar was full of Sox fans, including my friend JT. We walked back to the train through the crowds and by the ballpark, and I tried to imagine what was going on in the Red Sox locker room, not very far away from me at all.

20. BlueEyes has a friend who works for the Rockies, and I got to hold her NLCS ring. It's heavy! She gets us good tickets, too. Here's the view from the hand-operated scoreboard in right field, where she took my cielo and I on a tour last summer:

During BP, natch. And yes, I did get to change the score for a game!

21. A friend and I went to hang out at the D-Backs spring training in Tucson in 2000. We watched Matt Mantei and Randy Johnson take batting practice. Randy really is like a foot taller than everyone else. My cielo and I are going to Tucson next month and hope to catch a Rockies Srping Training game.

22. Astroturf is an abomination unto the Lord.

23. My mother thinks the DH is an abomination unto the Lord (as well as baseball played west of St. Louis), but I am a bit more ambivalent. I really enjoyed watching Edgar Martinez hit when we lived in Portland and the Mariners were on TV every day (except days off), and that wouldn't have happened without the DH. But the purist in me does believe that the pitcher should have to hit.

24. Annie Savoy's speech is just about the best thing ever:
I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there's no guilt in baseball, and it's never boring... which makes it like sex. There's never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn't have the best year of his career. Making love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I'd never sleep with a player hitting under .250... not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. You see, there's a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. I can expand their minds. Sometimes when I've got a ballplayer alone, I'll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him, and the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. 'Course, a guy'll listen to anything if he thinks it's foreplay. I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe, and pretty. 'Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball - now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God's sake? It's a long season and you gotta trust. I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.

25a. I believe that heaven will include lots and lots of ball fields, and endless games, and anyone can play. And there'll be choir practice between innings.

25b. Baseball heals. I believe this, too.


  1. 1) I think my first game must have been your first game.

    2)I have vague memories of Baltimore, and pretty good memories of Old Comiskey.

    3) I have joined worship service in Texas (old&new), KC, St. Louis (old), Chicago (both), Houston (dome), and Baltimore. In the minors, I've been to Albuquerque, Bartlesville OK, Springdale AR, Little Rock, Asheville NC, and the by-god Durham Bulls.

    4) I shook George Brett's hand. He wore a yellow sweater. When the ticker tape caught fire, I moved to the front of the line.

    5) Besides all the memories of the yard (pitching against the garage door, hitting a home run that bounced off the neighbor's trampoline), my fondest is falling asleep with the portable radio under my pillow in the summer, just loud enough not to get caught.

    6)I am the idiot savant of the 1985 Kansas City Royals. I can go right now to the baseball cards and they will still be in batting order. You forgot....Buddy Biancalana!

    7) I watched the pine tar incident unfold in the living room of Cecil Brinkmeyer's house.

    8) We must all quietly root for the Royals for the sake of purity.

    9) The little one is counting days until the AA team starts playing. Kila will be in Omaha. Last night she wanted to know why ballplayers don't play in the winter. We had our first discussion about spring training. She thinks they should just play all the time.

    10) I saw George twice last summer, once at spring training, once at a AA game. I still collect his baseball cards. My honeymoon was in KC. Gary Gaetti went deep twice.

    11) Clever Yankee putdowns have been exhausted.

    12-13)I have not won the hat prize yet. Only out of luck. Sbro will look good in my photos.

    14)I once charmed the front desk gal at Royals stadium and got in way before the gates opened. Baseballs were everywhere in the stands. It was a grown up easter egg hunt. I have snagged a home run ball from Jermaine Dye, Mickey Tettleton, and Cecil Fielder. The wife actually picked up Cecil's ball. We have so many balls from the AA team, that the little one gives them away to her best friends. I have ruined her forever.

    15)Peanuts and Skittles. Wash it all down with Dr Pepper, or if at Wrigley, Old Style.

    16) In 1996 I went to a Rangers/Yankees double header during Finals week. Mickey Tettleton found the upper deck. Twice. Later that year I was at the game where Mickey retired due to a knee injury. Between innings, he walked out from the dugout in jeans and cowboy boots. The wife says I was misty before the PA announcement even started. I just knew. I still have the photo feature from the next day's newspaper.

    17) Yes, however I do not regret getting ahold of a few pitches with my Easton Black Magic in VFW ball.

    18) I like watching the signs...the game within the game. I had nearly decoded the signs for our AA team before the end of the season last year. I also like deciphering the pitching strategy. I could tell Daniel Cortes was coming with the heat because of the way he held air in his upper lip.

    19) I talked to Frank White at length last year about his jitters before the '85 series. He was actually more concerned about disappointing the fans than actually playing well, so he said.

    20) Frank's ring was smaller than I expected.

    21) OMG, you have to stop in Phoenix and root for Kila this spring. The little one will think you're the shizz. Check out Hohokam park in Mesa, where the Cubs play. Hell, watch the Cubs play the Royals. Get tickets on the 3rd base side and watch for #5 to show up on the rail. You could die then.

    22) Do teams still use astroturf? I can't think of anywhere.

    23) The DH has allowed for the career elongation of some fine players...George Brett and Mickey Tettleton among them.

    24) Candlesticks make a nice gift.

    25)"People will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."

  2. TBro:
    1) if mom and dad took me to a ballgame in Chicago when I was a baby, you weren't even a thought yet.

    5) Don't forget the "fuck you" ball. I meant to get that in there.

    6) BearGoddess's 8 year old son got a bunch of old baseball cards from an uncle. I told him how I collect Royals who were on the 1985 team, and he went through and pulled out every Royal who had been on the 1985 team and gave them to me. Sweet kid.

    8) Agreed.

    9) The little one will be comforted to know that some players do play winter ball.

    14) I have never caught so much as a foul.

    19) You talked to Frank White? And didn't tell me??

    21) We are only going to be in AZ about 5 days. It'll be a stretch to convince my cielo to go to a game in Tucson, much less go to the far side of Phoenix!

    22) I don't know what that crap is that Tampa plays on, but if it ain't astroturf, it's still an abomination. Same for the Twins.

    23) And Edgar.

    24) Good one.

    25) This is tied with Annie Savoy. Made me cry reading it, thinking of you and the little one sitting in your "reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes."

    Thanks for playin', TBro. Love you.

  3. This is too fantastic! What a wonderful thing to read this evening! So many things I could comment on, but suffice to say that I am in total agreement about #14. Here's hoping that we get to enjoy batting practice at a game together someday!

  4. ENTIRELY with you on the subject of abominations unto the Lord: astroturf, metal bats, and, yes, the DH rule.


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