(Post traumatic baseball disorder)
I used to hate baseball...I really did, and I'm not sure why.My family would always play it in the backyard when I was little(like 7ish),and at first, it just seemed like something to do,play in the yard like a kid and such.I do however remember seeing my cat Gypsy get hit by a car during a game, (I almost did too,as the ball went into the street)and then watch the poor thing go into shock. (sorry,I'll lighten up in a sec)That was my first traumatic experience associated with baseball...it would not be the last.So it was around that time I shut baseball out of my life.Wouldn't play it,wouldn't watch it, and hey,my G.I.Joes with kung fu grip weren't going to play with themselves(so to speak).It didn't seem important, and also,I always liked being a little different(My Brother Brian took this to the extreme,as he would barricade himself in the den with the black and white backup T.V. and watch The Bruins by himself, as his love of hockey was not shared by my brother Sean or my dad),so not being in front of the tube during a Red Sox game wasn't a big deal to me, but of course,eventually I surrendered to the baseball gods...all it took was a great catch by Fred Lynn in center,and the reaction my dad had to it, to make me want more. .
Of course, this was 1978, the year they would make history (in a bad way) by blowing a 14 game lead to the hated Yankees,only to fall behind, then rally to force a tie ,resulting in the Bucky "Bleeping" Dent game.I can still see Yaz in left slumping down as the ball landed in the Green Monster's net .I remember after they lost saying"We'll beat them tomorrow", not realizing that there was no tomorrow, it was the end of the season.I learned the saying "wait 'til next year"all too well.Next year turned out to be 8 years later in 1986, but I'll get to that in a bit.First,there was my own bit of trauma going on.You see in '78,,I started to play Little League For The White Sox(Sponsored by Milton's Osbourne furniture company...they're out of business, so I'm not being a corporate whore by mentioning them),then '79 and '80 for the Milton Police Dept.(I believe they're still around).Our team in 1979 wasn't that good, but it was made up of a lot of my friends,John McCall,Mike Curran,Pat Gallagher,Jeffrey Kearns etc.(Most of the names on the team were like this,as Milton has the highest Irish population per capita of any place in America at 38%)and ,of course the most Irish name of them all, Patrick O'Shea(I dropped the "rick" as I got older).We went 2-13 that year, but had mostly the same team intact as we entered 1980.
1980 was great.We went an ordinary 8-7, but qualified for the playoffs,and eventually made it to the Town Championship, which was played in the fall rather than the summer, so we had 2 months to wait to play the 3 game series.We won game 1 on a walk-off double by Jeff Kearns, scoring "Bubba"(aka,John McCall).I remember doubling in that game also...in fact, I remember having a great series against our opponent, The Knights of Columbus(Side note,years later, my brother Brian coached The Police to the finals,where they played...you got it,the KOC..)The 1st game was at home,and the next 2 were on the West side of Milton.We lost game 2,not sure by how much, but game 3 is where it gets a little..well,familiar...It's the last inning of the final game,the bases are loaded,and guess who is up?...I got to the plate,and I was so revved up I felt I could have hit a 400 ft home run.My entire family and others were there to cheer me on,as I hit the first pitch down the 3rd baseline...in fact it HIT third base, which would have been a good thing, had they used real bases.Instead ,perhaps because of budget cuts,the bases were giant beanbags, so what would have surely been a bases clearing double,turned out to be this giant mystery...CLOMP...the ball disappeared into the bag, and all the runners froze...they didn't know what to do...even the umpires were baffled.The only person who knew was the 3rd baseman, who grabbed the ball,which was one out, then threw to second,double play...end of series.
Two years later,I was playing for The Dodgers in prep league.This was the first year we were allowed to steal,and I took full advantage,swiping 12 bags in 14 games(it was 1982,EVERYONE wanted to be Ricky Henderson...if you don't believe me,ask Ricky Henderson),and again,my team made it to the finals(just one game,for some reason).Final inning,I stole second,and as they threw to get me out,a runner scored from third pulling us to within a run.Then ,I made a huge mistake.I let the shortstop convince me I could steal third..I kept looking at the third base coach and telling myself,"yeah,that's the sign, he wants me to swipe third,I'm gonna do it"...suffice to say,I was thrown out and ended yet ANOTHER final game...I would never get another chance.(I won a comedian softball tournament recently, but it's not the same)