Brian, at 30 Year Old Cardboard, issued a challenge to all bloggers to list their Top Ten moments/stories which defined baseball for each of us. I'm always up for a challenge.
Below are my Top Ten moments in baseball. They aren't necessarily in order, but to be honest, they just might be. You know how that goes, on any given moment...
Anyway, without further adieu...
#10-Chicago, IL-Summer of 1973 I started collecting baseball cards in the summer of 1973. I thought it was so cool that I could get these little snapshots (backed by statistics) of all of my favorite ballplayers. Making it even cooler was all of the boys in my class trying to be the first to nab the card of our teacher's husband, Rick Stelmaszek. I think Tom Skalski won the race, but I eventually got one.
#9-Wichita, KS-June 1975My family took a roadtrip that included a stop for a minor league baseball game featuring the Wichita Aeros (and a catcher named Rick Stelmaszek). Chris Ward was the big hero that day, though. I don't remember the specifics, but he had a huge night. I snapped the picture below right before he launched a homer into the warm Kansas summer night. It was a Norman Rockwellian night.
#8 Pittsburgh, PA (via Chicago, IL)-September 1984
For the first time in my life, the Chicago Cubs made the playoffs. They had an interesting mix of veterans and young stars. They even had good-hitting pitchers. Baseball was going to be fun for years to come on the north side of Chicago (or so it seemed).
#7 Chicago, IL-Summer 1983
The White Sox won their division in 1983 to become the first Chicago team in the playoffs in my lifetime, but more importantly I stepped on a major league field for the first time. It was "Picture Day" and I made the most of it, trying to squeeze in questions to as many players as I could. In these pre-Johngy's Beat days, I had no recording device, other than an old camera.
#6 Cleveland, OH-August 18, 2001
My friends, Jason Farber, Jim Gekas and Chuck Gekas and I went on our first baseball roadtrip. We saw the Cleveland Indians beat the Anaheim Angels 4-2. The game was a backdrop for a great time with great friends. Fortunately, this tradition still continues.
#5 Chicago, IL-Summer 1973
This is the first baseball game I ever remember seeing live. My dad took my best friend Tom Skalski and me to see the White Sox. I don't remember a whole lot, but I remember centerfielder Ken Henderson making a great catch. I also remember it being pretty cold that night, but the chills I still get aren't about the weather.
#4-Atlanta, GA (via Chicago, IL)-April 8, 1974When Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's HR record, it was the first huge baseball event I ever saw. I didn't even realize the social relevance of the matter. Looking back, this still might be the greatest baseball accomplishment I have ever seen.
#3-Boston, MA and New York, NY-June 10 & 11, 2004
This was no ordinary baseball trip with my friends. This was baseball heaven. We started at the Baseball Hall of Fame, continued to Fenway Park and ended at Yankee Stadium. This doesn't need any more explanation.
#2 Los Angeles, CA-June 2008
My usual friends with the addition of JayHawk Evans and I went to Los Angeles to see the Cubs play the Dodgers. I also went on an assignment from Global Traveler magazine. I interviewed Rick Monday (for an online piece which would lead me to winning the GT Globility award and was read on nationwide radio by David Stein of Sporting News Radio). Chuck and I also talked to many other players, coaches and announcers. Topping it off was a Cubs victory.
#1 Houston, TX-2000's
This is more of a conglomeration of moments, but I could consider the first such occurrence if I had to pick one moment. When my sister and her family moved to Houston, I made several trips. Oddly, we got closer there than we had been here. One of the real highlights were the many games we all attended. It was fun sparring with Matt (my nephew) and Scott (his dad) over the Cubs and Astros. It was moving to see my nephew's interest in baseball grow. Best of all was experiencing this with Matt, Scott, Jean (my sister) and Sammy (my niece). Once again, baseball was the backdrop of great personal moments.