BALTIMORE – Excuse me, but this is going to be self-serving. Today is a special anniversary for me.
On September 8, 1963, I attended my first major league baseball game.
I’m known for being a bit anal about facts and figures, but I had some help with this one. A few years ago, a newspaper editor asked us to write about the first sporting event each of us attended.
With the help of baseballreference.com, I looked it up. Because my parents were just casual fans (these days my 94-year-old mother is much more avid one), I didn’t go to many games, so it was easy to remember.
The New York Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 5-2. The Yankees were nearing another American League pennant. Al Downing was the winning pitcher. Roger Maris hit a home run, and Yogi Berra was the catcher in one of his final games.
And, oh yes, the game sped along in exactly two hours.
In checking with a number of my press box colleagues, only one could recall details of his first game, and that was because it was the 1971 World Series.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who is the same age as I am, says his parents took him to a Yankees game in New York when he was five in 1961, and was told that he witnessed one of Maris’ 61 home runs that year, but doesn’t recall it.
Growing up, I never attended more than a handful of games a season until I was well into high school.
I will spare you the details of how wonderful the experience was, how green the grass was, and how it sparked my interest in baseball.
It’s kept me coming back for 50 years. Is it too much to ask for 50 more?