’89-’90 was all about the Oakland Athletics for me.We lived in Upstate NY so anytime i could catch them on ESPN i would.It wasn’t unusual for our cable service to be cut once or twice a year,so next day newspaper box scores and telephone sports hotlines was what i would typically resort to in the event of an unpaid cable bill.An Oakland win a day kept the grouchiness away.A multi-homer day from Jose was icing on the cake!
Every Saturday morning(after Sportscenter/cartoons and cereal of course) it was off to my buddy’s house to gather up his equipment and make our daily rounds,scouring the neighborhood for kids to get a decent game of sandlot baseball going.There was Edwin-the Darryl Strawberry fan,his older brother Orlando-the Reds fan(uugh,don’t even wanna go there),Dougie-the lover of all things Yankees.. and Kevin Maas,Reese-fan of the up and coming Atlanta Braves,Giovanni-the sometimes Oakland fan(although in ’92 he was mad at me and suddenly became a Blue Jays/Kelly Gruber fan when they played Oakland in the playoffs)and a few other stragglers and late arrivals to even out the teams.Getting 18 guys together to play sandlot baseball was nearly impossible.5 on 5 games were prevalent.We all imitated our favorites,too,.From Strawberry’s high leg kick to Canseco’s nervous twitch.Most of us would go on to play little league together before ultimately growing apart.Man…where’s a time machine when you need one.
To be continued…
I’m not sure what came first.My neurotic behavior or baseball?Or could it be that I’ve always been neurotic, and watching baseball just perpetuated that?I think the latter…….I think.I ripped my first pack of baseball cards in ’88,making sure to put any cards that featured Met players in their own special little pile.I loved everything about baseball cards.The iconic shots of players like Mattingly following through,the inserts,the different teams and of course the gum.To this day i still say that one of the reasons why i liked baseball so much was the fact that the players, in their brightly colored uniforms, reminded me of super heroes in the comic books i used to read.Only difference was that these guys were real!
I didn’t know much about stats ,though.I remember turning a card over and getting excited over a pitchers ridiculously high E.R.A. “Man this pitcher’s good!His E.R.A. is 10.56!”I told my dad. He laughed and then candidly exclaimed “no,no,no,he sucks!” And then laughed a little more. It was then that i learned that the lower the E.R.A.,the better the pitcher.The higher the AVG.,the better the hitter.
I remember getting my first Canseco card.A worn out,1988 Topps with 4 less than sharp corners.I hadn’t pulled it from a pack,it was actually given to me by a friend who probably had it in his pocket for most of that day.Hence the horrible condition.The multitude of creases paled in comparison to the fact that i was now the proud owner of a baseball card depicting the legendary Jose Canseco!Despite being born into a family of Met fans,i felt the need to let everyone in my household know who Jose Canseco was and that i was now his biggest fan.Not only that,but there was a strong chance that the Oakland Athletics would supplant the NY Mets as my favorite MLB team.
To Be Continued…..
My very first baseball related memory dates back to the early 80’s.I was about 5 years old when i took my first swing.The bat was plastic,long,and bright yellow.Like the kind that came with a wiffle ball as part of a set.An older cousin had brought it over and offered to throw me a couple of pitches in the backyard.I still remember how good it felt to make solid contact.That little plastic ball had seemingly made the mistake of floating directly into my wheelhouse,ultimately succumbing to the barrel of that yellow,rinky- dink bat that probably weighed more than i did at the time.It was Reggie-esque…..No it wasn’t.For all I know it could have just been a grounder hit back to my cousin,not 100% sure,but I did make contact and it felt great!I don’t know why exactly,but i wouldn’t go on to swing another baseball bat for another 6 years.I was around 10 or 11 when my interest in baseball began to re-surface.This time thanks to my dad who would occasionally throw on the Met game and point out who the good hitters on the team were.He talked about a guy named Strawberry a lot.I always thought that “Strawberry” was a funny name,especially for a power hitter.No player could put a smile on my dads face like Lenny Dykstra did.His face would light up every time “Nails” legged out a triple.Sooo naturally I would become a Mets fan.Until one day,a friend of mine began talking about an American League player who was lighting up the junior circuit at the time.”This guy’s good,even better than Strawberry!” he exclaimed “His name’s Jose Canseco!”
TO BE CONTINUED….