Great baseball game experiences

27 Apr

The greatest baseball game I ever experienced took place in 1977 at the newly renovated Yankee Stadium. The Yankees squared off against the Boston Red Sox, Catfish Hunter matched against Dennis Eckersley. From my vantage point mid way up the first base line this little girl fell in love with the game.

While I wasn’t sure of all the particulars of how the game was played having just turned seven I knew somehow this was a day that would stay with me forever. Hunter made his way through the Sox lineup with guile only truly great veterans possess. Eckersley overpowered the opposition with with his blistering fastball. Graig Nettles seemingly saved the day time and again with one amazing defensive play after another to only be matched by the youthful hard charging Boston star Fred Lynn in center field.

With the score knotted in the seventh inning I was introduced to an aspect of the game I love to this day. The Home run. Reggie Jackson stepped to the plate. After causing a small windstorm with two mighty swings and misses he launched a ball deep to right field that bounced of the upper deck facade. As Reggie always did, he stood admiring his own handiwork in the signature pose he is known so well for. Sparky Lyle entered the game and closed down the Sox offense for a Yankee win. I was hooked.

While seeing six future Hall of Famers on the field was amazing in and of itself (Hunter, Eckersley, Jackson, Fisk, Rice, and Yastremzski) the game meant far more than what happened on the field to me. It is the enduring memory of the people around me that day. My mom buying me my first Yankee shirt. Thumbing through the program and trying my best to keep my own form of score that even some thirty years later I cannot decipher. My dad picking me up in his arms when the game was over to carry this cranky tired young girl back to the car.

I can’t remember much more than the highlights of that game anymore, but the emotions of the day reside strongly inside my heart. While my team winning seemed of the utmost importance that day, as I got older it taught me winning is great if it happens, but there is more to the game. Sometimes the greatest baseball game experiences have more to do with what happens off the field than between the lines. At least for the seven year old inside this woman it does, and hopefully will for my daughter as well when her first game rolls around this year.

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