I’m not much of a sports fan. In fact, by and large sports are kind of boring to me. Except Baseball. I love baseball. It could be because when I was a child I spent a lot of time with my grandpap who was a semi invalid. I would often sit with him in the livingroom and watch the game on tv. As the game played out he would explain to me what was going on.
I quickly learned what a pop fly, a shut out, a bunt, the squeeze and countless other things meant. And what they looked like. And I quickly began to appreciate anyone who could seemingly fly up into the air and snag a homerun wannabe ball and dash all hopes.
I think maybe because of grandpap and my early tutelidge in the game I became a diehard Tigers fan. Even now, even though I’ve lived in California for most of my adult life – I still have a softspot for those motor city madmen. There is just something about them that speaks of the best of ‘home’ to me. They take me back to my childhood, when popcorn was heaven and watching the game was the biggest thing going on in the world. When things felt safe and happy. And even if they got the pants beat off of them I never stopped loving my Tigers. I guess that’s what they call a fan.
One of my fondest memories was the 1968 World Series. It was Tigers vs the Cardinals. And what a series! It was a nail biter from beginning to end. It looked like the Cards were going to sweep the series but somewhere around game 5 my Tigers busted outta the box and the fight was on. They were not going to go quietly. The Cards were going to have to use every trick in their bat bag to beat them.
Maybe because I’d watched my Tigers from the time I was a tiny girl and knew the team – Stormin’ Norman Cash, Al Kaline, Wille (the Wonder) Horton, Bill Freehan, Mickey Lolich, Gates Brown, Mickey McClaine and the rest…I just had a feeling. I believed. I knew my Tigers were going to rally and come back to take the series. It was going the full seven games and they were going to win.
I watched the whole series with my then best friend Dorothy – we were on a babysitting job with some neighbor kids and made them watch too. Our eyes never left the set. Especially on Game 7. It was the one. The game that would decide it all.
And that final moment when catcher Bill Freehan caught that last out sent us over the edge. We screamed until we were hoarse. We danced. We celebrated. Our guys had done good!
Imagine my delight when I learned that this year’s series was once again between my beloved Tigers and the awesome Cards. I’ve been watching the series – and ironically, I find myself going back to my memories of the ’68 series. This could be it tonight. The Cards could take it all. They have only to win one more game and they’re the champions. Yet…in my heart I’m hoping and believing that my Tigers will rally once again. They will get their blood boiling and their bats banging. And make this hometown girl proud as punch. Cuz though the players have changed, I think the spirit of the Tigers lives on – it transcends the players, the managers and coaches and is its own force to be reckoned with.
Wish them luck.