I miss baseball already. I just realized I can watch two baseball teams I’m not interested in (say, Boston and St. Louis) much easier than I can watch two college football teams I care not which one wins. In my heart I’m a U. of Louisville sports fan because of all the colleges I attended and was asked to leave, Louisville was the most classy. But after meeting my wife, and moving to the South immediately after getting married, I eventually got caught up in all the hype during the 90’s glory days of Florida State. This season FSU has a terrific team with a quarterback that seems to smile most of the time. He is fun to watch and the media has really hyped tonight’s game with one of their arch Florida rivals, Miami. I suppose what I like least about watching football on TV is all the commercials, penalties, high-tech graphics and other distractions which allow little time to actually enjoy what the players are doing on the field. There’s no sense of a developing rhythm that I find with most baseball games.
My father took me to my first baseball game featuring the home town team Philadelphia Phillies. Owning no car, we took a trolley car to a central station that connected to the subway which whisked us to within walking distance of Connie Mack Stadium. It was the 50’s and Philadelphia players youthful players were nicknamed “the Whiz Kids”. Players like Robin Roberts, Curt Simmons, Smoky Burgess, Stan Lopata, Andy Seminick, Ted Kazanski, my favorite Richie Ashburn, And Del Ennis. I collected their baseball cards and remember seeing them live for the first time under the lights…human Gods walking in front of my eyes. In 1964 my Phillies led the Cardinals and Reds by 6.5 games with 12 games to play in September. They lost 10 games in a row and finished the season tied for second, stomping on my heart all the way. From 1965 through the present my baseball allegiance has been with the Yankees, good years and not. It was a good move as the Yankees over that time span have brought me many more smiles than disappointment.
My father also took me to my first college football game during that same decade. Army VS. Navy. Two memories of that day stand out; the gold helmets of Army reflecting the sun making their players appear to me like gladiators, and the sheer number people in dress uniforms, especially the Navy cadets throwing their white hats into the air when the final second had ticked off the clock; pure magic akin to fireworks.
Tonight I shall willingly watch the FSU/Miami game and hope that Peg’s alma mater wins convincingly. It should be a fun game to watch. But I have to be honest. The highlight of my day was reading a small blurb on the last sports page of this morning’s newspaper that informed me that Derek Jeter had just signed on for another year with the Yankees. Spring training can’t come quick enough.