Chapter 11: When childhood heroes turn into real-life villains before your very eyes

March 15, 2012 | Nestor Aparicio

Game 3 of the Giants-A’s World Series. That’s still probably the weirdest newscast I can ever remember hearing in my life, even weirder than 9/11. It was like “War of the Worlds,” especially if you’re a baseball fan. What were the odds of those teams actually PLAYING in ANY World Series, and to have a massive natural disaster as the bowl of the stadium is filling up for the game and both teams are six miles apart?

You just don’t forget where you are when you hear that kinda thing.

Girls and rock and roll (hey, I had an ALL ACCESS pass for Hammerjack’s during these years!) had surpassed baseball on my hierarchy of human needs, but I watched every game of the Cincinnati/Chris Sabo win in 1990 and the Kirby Puckett/Minnesota extravaganza in 1991.

In 1992, which was my first year doing sports radio on WITH as the Orioles rolled into Camden Yards, I got World Series tickets for all of the Pittsburgh games through David Segui (every player got the right to buy postseason tickets and he hooked me up!). I was sitting in my bed on Kane Street watching Game 7 of the NLCS between Pittsburgh and Atlanta on my first big-screen TV, which I bought SOLELY to watch the World Series and the Super Bowl in the highest of luxury possible without having to pay for the trip. That Sony 52-inch box television was the first really expensive thing I ever bought for myself. It was $2000 and I saved up my money for months so I could have it.

It was the final inning, final game at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium and the Pirates were about to win, which I took no solace in other than that I would actually be GOING to the World Series. Hell, if the Steelers and Yankees had played in the World Series of Picking Up Pixie Sticks With Their Butt Cheeks at that point, I’d have bought tickets to see it.

I was a big fan, nothing more, nothing less.

So as much as I was “hating” on the Pirates, I needed them to win to go the World Series. I’ve never been a sports bettor or really much of a gambler at all, but I suppose this is like when you bet against your own team or for a team you just HATE, but if you win money, it’s all good!

I was literally sitting on the bed with the majestic, colorful ticket strips sprawled out. The seats were on the roof in Three Rivers Stadium (probably the worst baseball stadium this side of Exhibition Stadium in Toronto), so let’s not get too excited.

But, I WAS excited, clearly so much that I had them on the bed with me, so YES, I was geeking a bit.

Needless to say when the Francisco Cabrera-Sid Bream incident happened, my tickets suddenly became vouchers for refunds and my reconnection with that fabulous thing called the World Series, which I hadn’t seen in person since 1983, would have to wait at least another year. I really wouldn’t have had the time or money to do a road trip to Toronto or Atlanta, where hotel expenses and gas would have been more than I could afford, so I didn’t ask Segui for tickets.

By 1993, though, I had a few more nickels and was doing relatively well with my little radio show venture on new WWLG, which was really the whole WITH staff just moving stations from AM 1230 to AM 1360.

After broadcasting from a garage during the spring of 1993 (that’s a story for the NEXT book — but we literally broadcast from a neighborhood garage in Timonium for about eight weeks, lawnmowers running in the afternoons and all), we finally had nice studios near the ballpark at the Lord Baltimore Hotel and I had more contacts with players and the tickets for the World Series were an afterthought for most players so they were easy to get once you figured out they were easy to get if you knew someone.

But I NEVER took it for granted, going to the World Series.

I went to every game of 1993 World Series, and considering that three of the games were in Philadelphia and my “sometimes companion team” in the Phillies was involved, it was really a blast to be there. And being an Orioles’ goober, I also HATED the Blue Jays.

And — the best part — I had my first press credential for a World Series, on the backside of having my first credential for an All Star Game at Camden Yards three months earlier.
And, then there was that “Curt Schilling” connection.

I had actually been at the Schilling’s house and crashed after Curt pitched a gem in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Braves. I drove back to Curt’s house with Mike (the brother-in-law that we called “Flea”) after the game and we all watched the highlights on SportsCenter in their living room. Curt was such a collector of memorabilia that he brought home a bag of game-used balls from that game. It was his first postseason start and it was really cool to see how much it all meant to him, because he had just lost his father a few years earlier as well.

So, knowing Curt and Shonda as well as I did, it also made the entire month a really fun experience for me, even though that Joe Carter homer run kinda screwed