(September 8, 2000)
Back in the summer of ’62, the Giants and Dodgers were battling for first place in the National League. I was a nine-year-old (ahem) Dodger fan visiting my grandparents the weekend of a critical three-game series between the two rivals. “Can I bring my transistor radio to dinner?” I asked on Friday night.
Grandma looked up from a bubbling pan of chicken and dumplings. “Yes, I suppose so.”
An hour later I was licking gravy off my fork and listening to Vin Scully describe the mud between first and second base at Candlestick. “Why would Maury Wills want to steal second?” Grandma asked. “Isn’t that illegal?”
I laughed. “No, but the Giants are trying to make it hard for him to break the stolen base record. That’s why they’ve watered down the field.”
After dinner I answered more of her questions while we watched the game on TV. Grandma was a quick study, and a converted fan by Sunday afternoon. Unlike my mother, who was too busy raising my three brothers and me to follow baseball, Grandma had time, and patience. Baseball gave her something to look forward to each day. She’d also experienced many disappointments in her 66 years, which is why she was the first to console me after the Dodgers lost to the Giants in a tie-breaking playoff series. “Wait till next year, Debbie.” She knew there would be a next year. I wasn’t so sure.
Grandma lived to enjoy 33 more seasons of baseball, and, like me, switched her loyalties to the Giants when we moved to the Bay Area. She was the one to carry a transistor radio with her on summer days.
I have three daughters, but only my youngest likes baseball. I managed to get two tickets to a game at Pac Bell Park for Molly’s tenth birthday in June. She got to run the bases. A few weeks later the phone rang after one of the Giants’ comeback victories. It was my mother. “Did you see J. T. Snow’s home run?” she said. “He’s my favorite player, you know.”
So it seems another generation of females in my family has been pulled in by premium players and pennant possibilities. And Mom didn’t even have to start out by liking the Dodgers.
With a Perspective, I’m Debbie Duncan.
Note: I wrote this in August while crossing my fingers that the Giants would still be in the pennant race (they were about three games out of first). The day this Perspective was first broadcast, the team was coasting after a nine-game winning streak and sitting 8 1/2 games on top of the National League West. And on the day of the Sunday rebroadcast, my friend Rick gave me his tickets so my dad and I could enjoy a perfect afternoon of Giants baseball in the Arcade (right field) of Pacific Bell Park. I also saw them win Game 1 of the playoffs, but oh, that was all there was to be, as the Mets won the next three games. As Grandma said, “Wait till next year.” Since then I saw Barry Bonds break the single-season home run record (numbers 71 and 72, September 28, 2001) and hit quite a few other homers, including 660, which tied his godfather, Willie Mays. I’ve also been able to entice Giants right-fielders Reggie Sanders and Jose Cruz J. to throw warm-up balls up to me in the Arcade. And Molly is about as big a fan as I am!