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vintown: A Baseball History

I think that I’m all the way into baseball again. For as long as I can remember baseball has been my thing and then it just wasn’t. I don’t know if it’s because I had a baseball blog and burned myself out or if it was something else, but there was a couple of years there where I really didn’t get a lot of enjoyment from it. I would skip watching the World Series more often than not. It just didn’t excite me anymore and I don’t really understand why that happened because right now it excites me very much. Right now I don’t want to miss a single inning of playoff baseball even though I have no emotional connection to any of these teams.

I thought it would be a fun exercise to go through my baseball fandom year-by-year to get a grip on where it started, where it wained and how the hell I ended up liking the Mariners and Brewers when my entire family is so firmly behind the Cubs.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and go all the way back to the beginning.

December, 1981: Born. Don’t remember watching any baseball.

1982-1989: I’m sure that I saw some baseball in this time. I think I remember the Giants-As World Series with the earthquake, but that could just be from videos and things like that. I know I remember Ryne Sandberg and Shawon Dunston, but that could also be from the 1990s. My dad definitely took me to a Cubs game in this period.

1990: I can say for certain that I didn’t watch this World Series. I have clear memories of not remembering it. I know nothing about that Reds team and am still surprised when I see that Lou Piniella was their manager. My brothers definitely collected baseball cards at this time, but I did not.

1991: The Twins-Braves World Series feels kind of familiar. Kirby Puckett was definitely someone that I knew about and I remember the Braves losing. I’m not sure if I remember the Braves losing from the Braves losing or from seeing highlights of how they lost this World Series when they were in other World Series’.

1992: This is when I start watching more. I don’t remember anything exact, but when I look at the Cubs roster this was definitely when I started following more. Jose Vizcaino, Rey Sanchez, Derrick May, Andre Dawson, Sandberg, Dunston, Mike Morgan. This was the core of the team that I remember. I have a weird memory of watching the Cubs and Mets and having Dwight Gooden shut them down. That was possibly this game.

The Jays winning the World Series over the Braves feels familiar, but that might have more to do with what happens next year.

It feels like this is the year I played little league and remember it. Coach pitch feels right. I wasn’t great. There was a kid named Tyler who was pretty good. He might’ve been a year older than me. I know he hit a homerun once. It was one of those homeruns that went over the outfielder’s head and just kept rolling and rolling because we didn’t have fences. I know that I never hit one like that ever and that I would have to be a singles hitter in order to reach the majors.

Around this time is when I discovered a VHS tape called “Baseball in the 80s” that I must’ve watched about 80 times. This is where I learned about Ozzie Smith, Jose Canseco, Orel Hershisher, Robin Yount, Kirk Gibson, Billy Martin and everyone else. This rivals any wrestling VHS I ever owned for most plays.

1993: Let’s call this the beginning and when things got real for me. This is when I started reading Baseball Weekly… weekly and got really into it. For some reason that I’ve never asked about my dad split a 20-game package to White Sox games with a friend of his and we ended up going to a lot of their games. I loved that White Sox team and did so many fun kid things because of it.

  • I would draw the Sox logo on all my notebooks.
  • I made a wooden #1 in woods class in honor of Lance Johnson.
  • I had this pair of White Sox bibs that were absolutely ridiculous. They were black with pinstripes and were cut like shorts. I thought they were the coolest piece of clothing in the world.
  • One time while playing a baseball game on Nintendo with my friend I put a Frank Thomas card in my mouth for luck. I hit a homerun.
  • When they made the playoffs I snuck my Walkman with a radio into school. I put the Walkman in my desk and then ran the headphone under my shirt and listened to the game while the teacher taught class.

This was the season where it all clicked for me. I remember Bonds going to the Giants, Griffey’ 8-game homerun streak, Juan “going, going, gone” Gonzalez, the Indians starting to become a thing and everything else. This was the year I breathed baseball. I went to a playoff game for the first time (the clinching game of the ALCS) and baseball was my one true love.

Funnily enough, I think this was also the year that I quit little league because I was so bad and hated my team. I’d spend the rest of the summer regretting it and taking batting practice by throwing the ball in the air and hitting it into the woods. Barney the dog was supposed to fetch it for me, but that was not something that he was interested in doing.

1994: The year of the strike was also a year that had the potential to be really awesome. The Indians and White Sox were in a great pennant race, the Expos were amazing, Michael Jordan played baseball, Tony Gwynn was chasing .400, Frank Thomas was going for the triple crown and Griffey and Matt Williams were giving 62 homeruns a run. Then it ended with a strike and there was no World Series.

A lot of people talk about this year and how it ran off baseball fans and blah, blah, blah. That wasn’t me though. My uncle had a subscription to Sports Illustrated and they did this issue about how the 1994 season ended that was, obviously, a fictional account. I can remember going into his basement and reading that issue four or five times that year. I didn’t hate baseball for leaving, I wasn’t pissed about the strike. I just wanted it back.

READ PART TWO NOW

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