I turned on my car radio and broke into a grin. There he was and the “long period of great sadness” officially ended. Yes, it was Tom Hamilton, straight from Arizona guiding us through the very first pre-season Tribe game. Yay!
Sadly, as the innings unfolded we were losing to the Reds, but, hey, we’re sort of used to that! Actually, having been born and raised in northern Ohio after 1948, I didn’t really have a chance to know how exciting baseball could be until I moved to Philadelphia. There I experienced (and that is a great word to describe it all) one of the power teams of the 1970s with Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa, Garry Maddox, Bob Boone, and the hittingest pitcher ever, Steve Carlton. That team even included its sparkplug from Ohio, Pete Rose.
The stadium was always sold out. The fans ooh-ed and aaahh-ed with each pitch. Stores downtown piped the games over loud speakers so no one would miss the excitement of Phillies baseball. Strangers bonded on the streets with big plays and home runs! I was in love.
As it turns out, the reason I moved to Philly, my first marriage, ended and so did my infatuation with baseball. I remarried and moved back to Ohio and my current husband Joe and I went to a game in the old Municipal Stadium. We walked up and snagged seats right behind home plate. Then the players just kept dropping the ball. Although it was a double header I confess that I turned to Joe and said, “Do we have to stay for the second game?”
The most thrilling part of that day was remembering that I had marched on that field when the stadium was packed with Browns fans.
Years rolled by and both of our children grew up and moved away. Cedar Point was no longer a summer option for us as it ached our backs, wrenched our necks, and made us dizzy. (Getting old is tough.) So we bought into a baseball season ticket group for five games. We now manage the group and go to at least 25 games a season.
I love Progressive Field. I love the Terrace Club where we always begin our game day adventures. Most of all, I love the Tribe. They don’t drop the ball nearly as much as the old days.
Once on our anniversary we traveled to Kansas City to see the Tribe play and ended up in an elevator with Casey Blake’s brother’s best friend. I was a huge Blake fan (I’m still mad that they traded him all those years ago) and I was elated. (Joe thought he was lying, but I’m a believer!)
I joined the ranks of others who worshipped Grady Sizemore, but not because he’s cute. We were there when his batting average was 0.00, so I made him my favorite player and he got a hit. That did it! Currently my favorites are Brantley, Kipnis, and Lindor.
We were there during the playoffs the night the bugs came and we skunked the Yankees. We were also there the night we could have knocked Boston out of the playoffs but lost. Talk about contrasts in post game atmosphere! We were there when Giambi hit his walk-off home run and we were there the night Jim Thome rejoined the team and his first hit was a dribbler to first.
We’ve also been there for plenty of losses. At the end of one particularly abysmal September, we were exiting and an Indians’ employee held out a paper and said, “Next year’s season?” I brightened up immediately chirping, “Next year!” I happily accepted the schedule and scanned it all the way home.
“Maybe next year!” I said to Joe. Don’t we always say “next year”?
So, “next year” is here again. Maybe this will be our year? Go Tribe!
Pat Gorske Price graduated from Oberlin High School and taught English and drama there for 12 years. In retirement she continues to enjoy writing and theater. Comments can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.