1969 – What a time to be nine year old Baltimore baseball fan. I was really lucky. The O’s won 113 games that year. They were the world champions the next and in ’71, won their third consecutive pennant.
That’s how I was introduced to baseball; The Orioles and the World Series every year.
But, the really great thing was the afternoon start time. A columnist once wrote that baseball is always a little sweeter when enjoyed on somebody else’s time. I never thought about it before, but I came to realize that one of my best memories from Sacred Heart of Jesus School was when Sister Cecil told us to close our books. She brought in a black and white TV, and after we got over the shock of seeing a television in our classroom, we watched the first two innings of the Orioles-Mets games. What a treat!
It might be hard for the kids today to understand what a television in the classroom met. It was as rare as an African polar bear. And to have a baseball game on that TV…now you’re talking about a shocking treat.
You see there was no ESPN. We only had three channels. Our “Sports Center” was Jack Dawson , Vince Bagli or John Kennely reading scores into the camera. There were no videotaped highlights, so any sports action was maybe a 15 second filmed clip of that night’s game. Heck, sometimes we would go from Monday to Friday with absolutely no televised sports. The Orioles only televised 52 regular season games.
So, World Series time was a special treat. Baseball… on TV…during the week…in the daytime. Seeing Memorial Stadium on the tube was another goodie because back then, very few home games were televised. And of course, the cherry on the sundae was watching the game instead of doing arithmetic.
I probably loved baseball more than anyone in that classroom, and for some reason I felt a proprietary joy in the rest of the class doing in what I did all summer. That was root for the Orioles.
The school day ended about the 3rd inning. I hurried home, changed clothes and rushed off to Harry’s Confectionary store with my buddies. We bought candy and watched an inning or two at the store. There were some students from Patterson there, but they didn’t seem to mind us little kids hanging around watching the game with them.
I made my way back home to watch the rest of the game before heading out to squeeze in a few innings of curb ball on the street corner. If the O’s lost, which they did four times in ’69, we used the exercise to ease the disappointment.
I wonder how my experience compares with the passionate nine year old Sox fan today. His teacher didn’t have the temptation to stop instruction and put the game one on the tele. The kid didn’t get to hang around the big boys at the corner store to watch the middle innings. Worse, he couldn’t experience the catharsis of playing a pick-up game after a loss.
Instead, the kid has to finish his homework. Then, he waits through supper. His mom makes him take a bath before finally, at 8:30, only 30 minutes before bedtime the game starts. With over three-minute breaks between innings, the kid goes through a couple of REM periods before the final out is registered.
I love the proliferation of sports on TV. 324 O’s and Nat’s games on cable, Sunday and Monday night football, ten college games televised every Saturday. Sportscenter, Sports Extra, Sports Rise, I love all that stuff.
But I miss the World Series. I’ll be asleep by the fifth inning.