Monday, November 15, 2010
HOW I GOT HERE
Grab a Drink, I'm Rambling On...
My parents were quite older than most of my friends' parents. They grew up during the Depression. My father never played sports, he was always working. My father never watched sports on TV, when he wasn't working, he puttered around the house. He always had something to do. He wasn't a workaholic or a neat freak, he took his time. It relaxed him. He did his chores, mowed the lawn, tended his garden with a smile, a smoke and a beer. He wasn't much for TV because he didn't grow up with it. I, however, am an only child and the TV was my best friend!
This is the mid-'70s, before Cable, when you actually had to get up and turn the knob* to one of the three main channels. Yes, I said (3) three! Well, there were also a few UHF* channels, if you were lucky, but they came in snowy.* This was a big ass television encased in wood. If you were wealthy, you might have had a hi-fi* on either side of the TV, also encased in wood. This was some serious furniture. Society was not disposable during this period. You didn't get a new TV if your current one broke. A repairman came to the house and fixed it. Most frequently, it was a blown tube. (Today's TVs no longer house tubes.)
My Depression-Era parents were not going to purchase a new TV when there was nothing wrong with the one we had. The problem for me was it was black and white! Yes, I grew up watching a black and white TV. My parents considered this a luxury, not a necessity. I should be grateful to have a TV. They never had a TV, they were happy listening to the radio when they were my age. So this ungrateful child, with a black and white shiny box emitting from a huge clunky credenza prominently displayed in the living room, made a wish. Every year at my aunt's house, surrounded by cousins in damp bathing suits singing loudly and off-key, I would make the same wish as I blew out the candles. Finally, after three years of birthday wishes, Santa brought us a brand new color TV (naturally, it was encased in wood)!
Go ahead, refresh your cocktail. Go grab another beer. I'll wait for you. I know, I know, I'm rambling on...
Okay, now where was I? So I'm enjoying all of my favorite shows 'in living color'. I even enjoyed the summer reruns because I could now watch them for the first time in color. I even saw The Brady Bunch before it was a rerun. As most of you know, the heat and humidity in the summer is brutal. If we were not down the shore or at my aunt's pool, I stayed inside with the cool comforts of the air-conditioning. On Sunday afternoons the only thing to watch on TV were old black and white movies (I don't think so) or the Phillies playing on luminous green AstroTurf. I was hooked! Although I didn't really know anything about baseball, I received an entertaining education from Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn. My father didn't know much about baseball or any of the Phillies' players, so EVERYTHING that I know was from listening to Harry and Whitey. You could feel their love of the game and each other through the TV. Fortunately for me, this was the beginning of what was to be the trifecta of National League East Championships.
I would sit and listen and watch. At that time not all of the games were televised. I was so addicted that I would never miss a game, even if i had to listen to nine innings on static-y AM radio.
I was riveted as Harry with his smooth silky tones would lead Richie into one of his old yarns of his playing days. Not only was I learning the game of the present day, I was learning history from one of baseball's past stars who had first person real accounts of that very history. You could feel the love that they both had for the game and for each other. You could hear the lighters flicking as pipes or cigars were attempting to be lit. You could hear the passion in Harry's voice as he called Davy Lopes out, no, can you believe it!? That was Black Friday but there were many more colorful days and fascinating stories involved in my baseball education.
A lot of kids have hopped on the bandwagon over the past four years. It's an exciting time to be a Phillies' fan. But how many will remain once age has caught up with our All Stars? Will the consecutive sellouts in CBP continue as players get traded, retire, become free agents or management suddenly gets cheap? How will the Phillies maintain their new fan base?
I hopped on the bandwagon in 1976 and haven't gotten off. I was devastated in 1979 when we were crippled with injuries and finished fourth. By then, I had a true love of the game and rooted for the Pirates in the World Series. Oh, how I miss that cross state rivalry. This season reminded me so much of that year. By the time Ryan Howard hurt his ankle in August, I must admit, I thought that was the final straw. How we came back to have the best record in baseball is beyond me. It's what makes this sport so great.
By the mid to late 80's, let's face it, the Phillies sucked. I still watched because I fell in love with Harry and Richie. You may see something that you never saw before. You never knew where one of Richie's stories would go. There were also some individual records for players. Some people get emotional or depressed when they have a milestone birthday...30, 40, 50. That never bothered me, well I haven't turned 50 yet. Who cares as long as the party is good and there is plenty of booze. The thing that got to me, that made me feel old, like an official grownup was the retiring of Mike Schmidt. He was the last one left of the team that I called my own. I was no longer a rookie fan. I had followed an entire career of a Hall of Famer. I was now older than some of the players. I could answer most of the trivia questions that Harry asks Richie.
...and I could buy my own damn TV!
So how did you become a fan? How long have you been a fan? Let us know, we all want to know about your first time.
*ask your parents or grandparents.