Monthly Archives: March 2012
#5 – The 1978 World Series
The very first time I ever watched a World Series game I saw Bob Welch blow away Reggie Jackson (who everybody knew) to save the game and take a 2-0 dodgers lead. My best friend, Charlie Kuntz was a HUGE Yankees fan, so I was able to rub it in for about two days before the Dodgers collapse left me with the same blues that Dodgers fans have known for many, many years… “wait ’til next year” found a whole new generation
#4 – 1980
The season was winding down and the Dodgers HAD to win three straight against the Astros just to tie and force a one game playoff. It was the first time a sports team about which I cared really went on a “do or die” run, winning three straight nail biting one run wins to send the two teams to the playoffs.
Monday October 6, 1980, the day of the playoff found me missing school for oral surgery – an 90degree impacted cusped had to be removed. The oral surgeon asked if I wanted the headphones with some music, I asked if they could get “the game.” They could and I suffered through the 7-1 loss AND the surgery and forever afterwards, the Dodgers and I were bound together in pain.
#3 – 1981
In October of 1981 the Dodgers capped the improbable and bizarre season with miracle after miracle. I never saw a single pitch. In San Diego for boot camp, I had not yet actually begun training and was assigned to a general cleanup crew when the Expos and Dodgers met in Montreal. We were working in an office near the gun range at the old RTC San Diego (which, like the Expos, is long gone) when I came across a fellow Dodgers fan in the form of a sympathic Chief Petty Officer who let me “work” in his space and listen to the game on the radio. The emotional lift that I personally received when Rick Monday belted that home run carried me for days.
I got an even bigger lift some days later when I asked a Navy Dentist how the World Series was going.
“Those damn Dodgers won again,” he groused. I clearly applauded and cheered in the chair, to which he replied, “So, you’re a Dodger fan, eh? No Novocain for you.”
Thus was born my permanent terror of going to the dentist.
#2 – 1988
Yes, Kirk Gibson’s home run caused such a ruckus in my apartment that the neighbors called the police. But for me, the whole season was a wonderful ride, with my all-time favorite player, Mike Scioscia, leading the way. Mickey Hatcher was amazing and the whole “Kill Bob Costas” chant still makes me laugh.
It was one of the most enjoyable seasons ever, not just because the Dodgers won, but I also was able to go to Baltimore and see the Mariners play, my first solo trip to a major league city other than where I was living.
#1 – 1947
I know that I wasn’t born yet. But in 1947 the Dodgers became the first team to integrate Major League Baseball. They did it on purpose and because the BEST player was Jackie Robinson, not because they needed a gimmick or Bill Veeckian publicity stunt. Jackie Robinson was simply the best and he proved it time and again.
Jackie’s success in the face of intense pressure and opposition not just on the field led to my favorite all-time Dodger, Roy Campenella, becoming a part of the team*, and winning for the first time ever the Dodgers World Series Championship in 1955.
In so many ways today we take things for granted, but the courage that the entire team showed that year stands as one of the greatest moments in not just sports, but in societal change. I didn’t know any of that when I watched Bob Welch blow away Reggie Jackson. I didn’t really know it when my impacted cusped was removed, and I really didn’t understand it when Pedro Guererro blasted his Game 5 home run. By 1988, I knew it and had begun to understand it.
Today I am ever so proud of what the team I chose to support did in 1947.
*and by the by, the reason that I played Catcher. According to Roger Kahn’s “The Boys of Summer,” Campy’s high school baseball coach drew nine circles on the floor of the gym and told all of the boys there for tryouts to go to the circle with the position they wanted to play on it. Campy waited until he was the last boy, then chose the circle that had nobody else in it, “I was the only-est one there” he once said about being a catcher. It seemed like the best job to me and it’s also why I later became an MDF Heavy aboard USS Michigan. Somebody has to take on the challenge.