Yesterday we covered the first 12 years of my baseball fan life and some of my earliest memories. The strike in 1994 put a dent in what could have been one of my all-time favorite seasons, but that’s okay because today we start off with, you guessed it, one of my all-time favorite seasons.
1995: This is the season when it all went off. For starters, I’m pretty sure this is the year that my aunt, uncle and their friend Flippy took my cousins and I to an early season Cubs game. It was absolutely freezing and the Cubs were probably losing. We sat in the bleachers and who knows what I said (my guess? Calm down), but some drunk adult wanted to fight me. Me, a 13-year old. Flippy ended up pushing the guy away from me and getting thrown out of the game, much to the chagrin of everyone else in the crowd.
I didn’t care much about the Cubs that year, although I’m sure I watched plenty of games on WGN, because the team that grabbed my attention that year was the Seattle Mariners. I already knew about Griffey, but this was the year I fell for the team (just like everyone else). Edgar, the Big Unit, former 1993 White Sox Joey Cora, Jay Buhner and everybody else made up the coolest team in baseball. Everyone wanted to be a fan. My troublemaking ways at school would have me at home for the one-game playoff and I was hooked. I ended up watching every game of the playoffs that year. I celebrated “The Double”, watched the Indians series and then saw the Braves finally breakthrough and win it all. These were fun times.
This was probably the highlight of my little league career as well. I was somewhat good and I played a lot of positions. Starting at second, moving to center, to catcher and then to left or right. I was good enough at all of them and great at none. My little league career in a nutshell.
1996: I was definitely a fan this year, but don’t remember much about it. All I can really remember is that my mom bought me an Albert Belle jersey. Then one day I left it in my bag(?) and these kids stole it. They were Latin Kings so there really wasn’t much I could do about it. Weird times. I remember the World Series. I remember Bernie Williams.
My first Brewers game was around this time too. My dad took me to work with him in Milwaukee one day and then put me in a cab to County Stadium where I went by myself to a random Yankees-Brewers day game. I got there early for batting practice and a guy took my glove, tied it to his belt and got me a ball off the field. I then had the ball signed by Fernando Vina and Derek Jeter. I was more excited about Vina, if you can believe that. If I had to guess it was this game, but I’m not positive.
We went to at least one more Brewers game that year and I brought my friend Marty. All I remember about that one is an adult kicking over my soda then acting incredulous that it was his fault.
1997: This is when the urge to be cool at school starts to mess with my baseball fandom. None of my core friends really liked baseball because they were a bunch of losers, but I thought they were cool so I watched less and less.
I remember the World Series though. I had weird attachments to the Indians and the Marlins. Albert Belle, possibly the biggest asshole in MLB, was my favorite player at the time. For some reason when the Marlins were brand new I collected a ton of Marlins cards and wore a Marlins hat all the time. No idea why. Maybe I’ve always been a vagabond fan.
1998: The homerun war between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire really drew me in at this time, but honestly I was fully into wrestling at this time. This is when I really got into tape trading and I watched far more wrestling than baseball this year. I did, however, go to a Cubs game during this time and saw Sammy Sosa hit one of his homeruns. Here’s a picture of it. Note: I’m wearing a TOOL shirt.
My dad would take me to my second playoff game as the Cubs got swept by the Braves. I remember how cold it was and how bad I had to pee, but the cold and the stage fright from the Wrigley Field trough urinals wouldn’t let me. For some reason, I remember Henry Rodriguez.
1999: I have no memories of this season. I was very concerned with being cool. I also watched a lot of wrestling. No, that doesn’t make sense to me either.
2000: A whirlwind year that saw me graduate, have my first long term girlfriend and get into way too much trouble. So much that I had to move away for awhile. By the time of the playoffs, I was in Alabama and doing stupid things like living in Alabama while all my friends were starting college. I briefly remember seeing the Mariners sweep the White Sox. I definitely watched one of the super boring Yankees-Mets games.
After the World Series ended I would go back to Wisconsin and get myself in more trouble, going so far as to spend time in jail. What an idiot. That experience and the time I spent in Alabama the following year would have me rethinking a lot of things in my life and I knew I had to make some changes.
I started watching wrestling and sports again and I started playing more video games. I tried to do less stupid things. The goal of everything at that time was to save money because by the fall of 2001 I would be moving. Seattle would be my new home and everything would be different and I would fall in love with the game all over again.