Recalling Baseball Moments Vividly

Back in the mid-1980s, there was a surge of writing celebrating the supposed poetry of baseball as opposed to the mere prose of other sports.  George Will’s Men at Work wouldn’t be published until 1990, but he had been writing lovely columns for a long time about how baseball was the only major sport, for instance, not controlled by a clock, making it a less-hurried, more cerebral game.

As a cradle fan myself, as well as a former pitcher, I tried styling along these lines, and while what I wrote wasn’t foul, it wasn’t much better than fair either.  “Overwrought with overtones of church bells” is how I might describe one attempted column.  (Or was it undertones?)

I recall all of this vividly.  Which is in keeping with how recalling what’s sublime about baseball is easier and more joyous than remembering anything about less exquisite games where the most serious of commandments is knocking the snot out of somebody before the gun goes off.

With a new Major League season opening this week what do you remember about baseball through the years, likely decades, especially about the Twins?  Are there moments relayed by Herb Carneal and Dick Bremer as crystal clear as those bells?  I thought so, congratulations.

Yeah, yeah baseball’s regular season is 162 games compared to the NHL and NBA’s 82, and the NFL’s 16, so there’s more fine wine to savor forever.  But don’t forget all that highfalutin spiritual stuff I started out with.  That’s part of it, too.  So, if I’m asked to call up a few baseball memories at the drop of a cap, no sweat.

Going back, back, back . . . .

I remember seeing Sandy Koufax at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field in person.

I remember seeing Ernie Banks hit a home run in the same game.

I remember being taken back by Yankee Stadium’s emerald green infield for the first time – two Yankee Stadiums ago, actually.

I remember, watching on television, how rotten I felt when the Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski hit a home run off the Yankees’ Ralph Terry in the bottom of the ninth to win the 1960 World Series.

I remember being in Yankee Stadium when Roger Maris hit two homers against the White Sox’ Billy Pierce as he approached 61 home runs in 1961.  (I just double checked, it was, in fact, Billy Pierce both times, numbers 47 and 48.)

I remember feeling good but also a bit undeserving when Ralph Terry somehow made it through the ninth inning against the Giants in the 1962 World Series despite Willie McCovey hitting a very long foul ball home run before lining out to Bobby Richardson at second for the last out.  Ralph got lucky that time, but Willie wuz robbed.

When I moved from Binghamton, NY to the Twin Cities in the summer of 1974 I remember getting lost trying to find the old Met for the first time.  I recall some of the Twins who played that night, especially John Castino for some reason, but what really has stayed with me was the Grain Belt sign.

I remember driving from Woodbury back home to Minneapolis one summer night and catching on the radio the final inning or two of Kirby Puckett’s first game as a Twin.

I remember driving from Wisconsin back home to Minneapolis one summer morning and catching news of the end of Kirby’s career, as it had just been learned his glaucoma surgery fell short of a miracle.

I remember moving to Washington for a short stint a week before the Twins met the Cardinals in the 1987 World Series.  One lousy, dang week.  I later suggested to Dave Durenberger that perhaps I enjoyed the Twins victory more by surreally being away.  “Nope,” he said, “it was great.”

And I remember being on my honeymoon in Hawaii when the Twins played the Braves in the 1991 World Series.  I remain everlastingly grateful to Diane for allowing me to watch a couple of innings of one or two games before returning home and turning into a serious wreck watching the whole of the sixth and seventh games, eventually and thankfully made jubilant by Kirby in the former and Jack Morris in the latter.

I’m guessing you remember being a jubilant mess, too.