11 July 2006

My Mom the Fan

One day after my mother's family had moved from Grand Prairie, Texas to Cleveland, when she was about 13, Mom was asked by a classmate to ask my grandmother to write a note excusing her from school the next day. "What for?" Mom asked. "To attend Opening Day!" her classmate told her.

Mom did ask her mother, who did write the note. (Clearly, my grandmother was more permissive back then. I can't imagine that she would have written that note for me. But that's not the point.)

Mom got to go Opening Day at Cleveland Stadium (this was before Jacobs Field) and was part of a crowd of over 70,000 people. She had a wonderful time: she loved the breeze off of Lake Erie, the smell of the beautiful green grass, and the skillful - and famous! - players. (This was the Spring of 1950, for the baseball history fans. She remembers Early Wynn, Bob Feller, Mike Garcia, and Bob Lemon, especially.)

By the end of the summer, Mom was completed hooked. When school started in the fall, she tasked my grandmother with listening to the games and keeping score so that Mom could keep up with the Indians. Gram said that she didn't know how to keep score, but there's no denying my mother when she is determined, so Mom taught her how in half an hour.

There were a lot of day games back then, so Gram got lots of practice keeping score and Mom would come home to find a complete record of the game waiting for her. In the process, Gram also became a fan and remained one for the rest of her life. Gram died in 2002, so that's 52 years of rooting for the Indians. Three penants (1954, 1995, and 1997) but, alas, no World Series Championships.

Mom just missed a chance to have rooted them to a World Series win because they did beat the Boston Braves in '48. Mom's friend Ed (my source for the Indians' history) says that they were heading for a Series win in '94 but the stupid strike ended that chance.

For her sophomore year in college, Mom transferred from Miami University in Ohio to Washington University in St. Louis. Her folks had already moved to St. Louis and her father had attended Wash U, so it was pretty much fated. Anyway, Mom says that she could walk down the street and follow the games from the radios she could hear through the open windows and from the porches.

Ed says that Mom is still a devoted fan and listens to all the games on the radio and yells out the scores to him.

So when I root for baseball teams, I root for the Nats and Orioles, my local teams; the Indians, Mom's and Gram's team; and the Cardinals,the family's historical team because if we are from anywhere, we are from St. Louis. And, by the way, so are the Orioles - in 1954 the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. What happened to the previous Orioles, I hear you cry? They moved to New York and eventually became ... the dreaded Yankees.

7 comments:

Maureen said...

I'm curious - why did your Mom's classmate ask for your grandmother to write that note, and what did she write to get them excused?

Brett said...

What happened to the previous Orioles, I hear you cry? They moved to New York and eventually became ... the dreaded Yankees.

Ahhhhh you brought back the cursed memory! Ahhhhhh! I must shower now....

The Original Orioles were quite a team and notorious for pushing the limit of the rules and often just plain cheating. John McGraw is often credited with starting 'thinking' baseball, ie using the rules creatively. McGraw is credited with developing the hit and run, the squeeze play and the Baltimore Chop. He was also the first manager to call pitches from the dugout. He also tested baseballs ban on negro players by trying to pass a light skinned black player as an Indian, but was ratted out and forced to drop the player. Naturally the Yankees owner fired him soon after buying the team, he went on to manage the Giants for 30 years. Gahhhhhhh! Curses to the Yankees and their team swiping ways....

Anonymous said...

I hate to break it to Ed, but when the strike happened in 1994 the Yankees had the best record in the AL, the Expos in the NL, and the Indians weren't even leading their division (they trailed the White Sox in the AL Central). So "heading for a Series win" might be a trifle optimistic. :D IMHO, the team that really got jobbed was the Expos, but all's well that ends well :D

Before the Nats came to town, my NL team was the Cardinals, and I'll always be fond of them because my maternal Grandmother rooted for them (she called them "My Cardinals").

Anonymous said...

*sigh* once again, the anonymous poster was me. I'm cute, but a slow learner ...

Rigel

Jim A said...

Of course me Da went to Miami, but he was a Reds fan. --Simon

David Gorsline said...

Mike Garcia, the only member of the Indians' "Big Four" pitching rotations of 1949-1954 not inducted into the Hall of Fame. Lifetime 142-97, 3.37 ERA.

Trout said...

Screw the Yankees. Screw them right in the ear.

I'm a Tigers fan by birth and a Cardinals fan by induction: I was born in Detroit but my dad grew up in suburban St. Louis and we used to catch Cards games during trips to Grammy's. He's since moved back there and now I see the Cards every summer.

Meanwhile, until very recently, being a Tigers fan (not to mention a Lions fan) meant having a hard life.

If they face off in a replay of the '68 Series - a possibility this year - yours truly will love every second of it.