Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fathers and Sons

The Baseball Connection
Forgive me regular readers, I have to gush because my San Francisco Giants just won the World Series!

This has been some ride for a kid who was raised by a Native San Fransiscan to love the SF Giants and hate the LA Dodgers.

I was only six years old when the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers moved into California. Somebody in MLB had a bit of the PT Barnum in them back then, because they moved an established cross-town rivalry West and transplanted it into the fertile ground of the NorCal vs SoCal rivalry...genius.

I have vague memories of going with my Dad to see the San Francisco Giants at their temporary home, Seals Stadium before construction of Candlestick Park was complete. The stadium was the home of the Minor League San Francisco Seals, a Pacific Coast League team that was home to the DiMaggio Brothers.

The Seals celebrated their inaugural year in Seals Stadium by winning the PCL pennant in 1931. The following year, Seals outfielder Vince DiMaggio arranged a tryout for his younger brother Joe. In 1933, Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 61 straight games with the Seals, a harbinger of his 56-game hitting streak for the New York Yankees in 1941...Pop was a big fan of the Seals' Vince DiMaggio...Joltin' Joe DiMaggio? Not so much...

When Candlestick Park was finished, my Dad's Office bought Season Tickets. They used their seats to woo potential clients, and as perks for employees. I watched a lot of baseball from Section 10 Box 2A Seats 3-6

These were Front Row seats on the Left Field Line just outside of the Visitor's Dugout. (Seat 1 was adjacent to the dugout, and the row of seats behind our seats were reserved for the Visiting Team's wives and girlfriends). Actor Carl Malden had Seats 1&2 during the run of TV's "The Streets of San Francisco". Malden loved baseball, period...he always had a program folded open to the scorecard and he dutifully kept score from batter to batter.

We always bought a program, and my Dad showed me how to mark it up to keep score. I was never any good at keeping score...there was too much baseball happening all over the field and stands for me to pay attention to the scorecard.

As I was nurtured into a loyal SF Giants Fan, I fell in love with baseball...My Dad got me signed up for the local Little League Team, and we went to many Giants games every season. When I was 10 years old, the Giants had a magic season. Loaded with future Hall of Fame players, the Giants battled from the depths of their "June Swoon" to force a playoff series against those hated LA Dodgers for the pennant. They WON! It was amazing!

Next up, my Dad pulled me out of school to go to Game One of the World Series against the New York Yankees...the Whitey Ford, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Clete Boyer Yankees! We lost that game, and finally lost the Series, and I learned a little something about expectations and reality.

I've been waiting since that day for My Giants to win a World Series..as have untold numbers of SF Giants fans. Tonight our prayers have been answered.

Baseball is a 19th Century Game occupying October's Center Stage in the Media-Saturated 21st Century...

All throughout the Post Season, I've been watching and listening to the Giants' games with several of my closest and oldest friends, and sharing every up and down by way of the internet.

My Facebook page has been lighting up like a pinball machine in a 7.9 earthquake. Friends I haven't had a face to face with in 30+ years are sharing every pitch, close call, triumph, and setback.

Tonight, when it looked like the SF Giants would finally be World Series Champs, lots of the guys let their guards down a little...

I was amazed by how many guys talked about their Dads taking them to their first Giants game at Seals Stadium...lot's of remembrances of Dad's and early baseball lessons, baseball games, and baseball love. My Generation, who are closer to 60 than 39 were all little boys when the Giants came to town...formative baseball age, if you will...

Fathers and Sons...it's the Great Unspoken Secret of baseball. I saw it referred to on TV tonight in the Post Game Hoopla on CableTV. Lots of talk about Giants fans waiting 52 years for a SF Giants Championship...about the Giants fans "looking down from above" finally seeing their beloved SF Giants winning it all.

On TV tonight after the game, my childhood idol, the best baseball player of all time, Willy Mays spoke of many of the same joys and fears that all my friends were feeling throughout the Giants' Post Season. Mays is a fan, as much as he's the Greatest to ever play the game.

Baseball is the only Professional Sport that has this level of love at it's core. Baseball is a super highway back to America's Agrarian Past, that pastoral, simple past of our best dreams and hopes, and a handy framework over which generations of Dads have molded their sons into civilized, caring and able men.
My Dad kept me out of school to go to Game One of the 1962 World Series against the New York Yankees...the New York Yankees of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, and Clete Boyer. We lost that game, and finally the World Series setting up the Epic Oddesy

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