During my childhood, the three great influences of my world were family, church and sports, in varying order, depending on the season and the day of the week. The first open rebellion of a lot of seventh-graders was sneaking portable radios into school so we could listen to the 1960 World Series between the Yankees and the Pirates.
Not having money for new bats and balls, we fixed what we had with electrical tape until the abused equipment could be repaired no longer. If we were alone, we hit rocks with a stick.
The boys in our community played pick-up games. We created a baseball diamond in the woods behind our house. We also played in organized leagues from about the sixth grade until high school graduation. I was a catcher.
We loved baseball cards. We played indoor games with them, hitting what amounted to a spitball with our favorite player’s card. We bent a lot of cardboard that way. We put the cards in the spokes of our bicycles to hear the noise the made. We destroyed a lot of future income that way.
No Major League team had made its way South yet, so everybody picked a random team and said they were his favorites. Always for the underdog, I pulled for the Washington Senators. I read the box scores every morning. Harmon Killebrew was my hero. Augusta had a minor league team, a Detroit Tigers affiliate, and I remember going to their games a few times.
My favorite baseball these days is the college variety. Watching the Clemson Tigers on a spring afternoon feels pretty close to heaven. I get over to a few Atlanta Braves games most years, and when I travel to a Major League city, I try to see a game, thirteen cities so far. I spent a week at Spring Training one year. I’ve been to Cooperstown twice. I’ve been to one All-Star game and to zero World Series games. That could be on my bucket list. But it’s October and I expect to be in front of the television set every night for the next few days watching San Francisco battle Kansas City.