Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, October 17, 2014, 9:51 a.m.
In the first major league baseball game I ever saw, when I was eight years old and the Braves moved to Atlanta, Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants hit a home run, which is why, for most of my life, the Giants have been my favorite team in the National League. I’ve never favored them over the Boston Red Sox, even though I never saw the Sox play in person until 1983, when I was out of college. I’m a legacy. My father rooted for the Red Sox. He spent parts of the summers of 1950 and 1951 visiting relatives in Boston. Uncle Cas was in the Army, stationed at Fort Devens.
Had Jimmy Dutton become a fan of the Boston Braves, it would have been so much more convenient, because they would have moved to Atlanta, after a little over a decade in Milwaukee, in 1966. But he didn’t. He idolized Ted Williams, and later I came along to idolize Carl Yastrzemski.
For most of those years, the exception being the time between when I saw Barry Bonds hit a grounder to second base and never leave the batter’s box and the end of Bonds’ career, my favorite National League team was the Giants, and that is the case now. Writing about NASCAR gave me a chance to see the Giants play at both Candlestick Park, their frigid former home, and the more temperate AT&T Park, which, like everything else in the San Francisco Bay Area except Alcatraz Island, is absolutely beautiful.
By the way, even though I wasn’t a fan of Bonds, he did hit one of the three tape-measure home runs I’ve seen in person. It was at the middle Yankee Stadium on a Pocono race weekend.
The other two were by Joe Charbonneau of the Cleveland Indians, also at Yankee Stadium in 1980, and Willie McCovey, who hit one into Atlanta Stadium’s upper deck at a Sunday doubleheader in 1969.
The Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012. The Red Sox won it in 2013. I’m on quite a roll because the Giants are there again.
I also like the Kansas City Royals, by the way. NASCAR also took me to Kansas City, and I remember once when, late in the season, I watched a horrendous game between the Royals and the Detroit Tigers in which both teams had lost a hundred games, and I thought it possible that the two teams would finish with double figures in runs, hits, and errors.
Apparently, that was in 2002, the most recent season the Royals and Tigers both lost in double figures.
I’m rooting for the Giants, but, if the Royals win, it won’t bother me too much. That’s the difference between a Series involving my favorite team, the Red Sox, and one involving the one I like the most in the National League.
It is my studied opinion that Giants manager Bruce Bochy is baseball’s best skipper. Years ago, when I covered and scored minor league baseball, I knew Royals manager Ned Yost a little and liked him. I say I knew him a little because, twenty-five years ago, I think he knew my name. Here’s my one anecdote about Yost.
The late Jim Beauchamp, one of my favorite sports personalities, managed the Greenville Braves. Hank Aaron was the Atlanta organization’s Director of Player Development. Due to an injury, the G-Braves needed a catcher. This was Beauchamp’s account of a telephone conversation with Aaron.
Aaron: “Hey, Beauch (Beech), I found you a catcher!”
Beauchamp: “Oh, yeah, who’d you sign?”
Aaron: “Signed Eddie Yost.”
Beauchamp: “Little old, ain’t he, Hank?”
Eddie Yost last played for the Los Angeles Angels in 1962. Ned Yost was the Greenville Braves’ new player-coach. Aaron misspoke in the same manner that people older than me here in Clinton often refer to me as Jimmy.
I’ve written a couple baseball-themed short stories at my other blog site, www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com. My latest is set on a car lot. I appreciate your consideration of my novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope, both available in softcover and Kindle editions at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Monte%20Dutton&sprefix=Monte%2Cstripbooks.