For the first time since high school, I have an abundance of free time. The lack of Detroit Tigers baseball gives me time to think of the past and finding ways to occupy my time. Uh, oh, here’s a flashback story.
April is the time of the year baseball is kicking into full swing. So far in 2020, we have been getting games of the past and a personal favorite of mine, old episodes of This Week In Baseball, which had one of the best intro music beds of all time. In my case, I have been playing as the 1980 Detroit Tigers on Out of the Park Baseball 21.
The lack of baseball has forced us to come up with ideas we never had time before so I went with one we came up with as a staff. When we started to love baseball or what brought us to this passion. I can pinpoint to one year that really got me got me going on a path of yelling at the TV, swearing in Spanish at the ump after a bad call in little league and creating a complete make-believe baseball league on a three subject notebook, consisting of city teams in my local area, so I could remember stats better.
The year was 1990. The Detroit Pistons were the defending NBA champions, getting ready to make another finals run. I had a blue Pistons jacket that I paid for from my first communion. I was listening to local radio favorites Power 96.3 FM and whatever my older brother would play on his old Panasonic boom box.
The neighbors next store had a family of four, similar to ours, who had all their children around the same ages as my family, which worked out great. The two brothers that were closer to my brother’s and I age came home wearing a black baseball jersey with white pants with the word “Firebirds” in that classic baseball curve script across the chest. Their hat was the mesh style with the cursive “F” on top. I thought it looked cool. We always played basketball or toss the nerf football but baseball at the time among the neighborhood kids was something we watched on television or heard on the radio.
So we asked my parents if we could play and be on the same team as our neighbors. My mother got the information and off my mother went to sign us up. She came home with a plastic grocery bag. It had our jerseys and hats in it. I was stoked to rip the bag open and put on the Firebirds jersey. Instead, I saw green and white. and the word “Wildcats” in the same cursive. The Firebirds roster was full. I was disappointed at first until I put on the mesh hat that had the “W” similar to what you see with the Washington Nationals. I would be a Wildcat instead. The best part about the jersey was I got to be number “4” like the newest Tiger, Tony Phillips.
Box Score Flashbacks
My father purchased me my first glove, a MAG Little Leaguer from MC Sporting Goods. It was small but did the trick. As I was one of the last players to join the team, the team was already assembled. But I was stoked to play. The season started in early May but it did not stop me from wearing my hat to school.
My dad fed into what we were into. I was (still am) a big reader and would read the sports section of the Detroit News all the time at a young age. I started reading the Tigers box score, watching whenever they were on TV. My attention turned away from the Pistons, reading old Hardy Boys books and instead, playing a game of “500” with our new mitts or taking a tennis ball and playing baseball across the street in an old parking lot.
1990 was the year that I first remembered that April was the most important month of the year. As I sit here in my home office typing at this, I pause for a moment to prevent myself from having a moment. Nostalgia while it can be a good thing, sometimes, it can stir up memories you have forgotten about. Like your mother having Carne con papas (beef, potatoes, and rice) ready with a cold chocolate milk after the game. Or having Daly’s hamburgers with a few friends after the game.
The baseball field I first became a wildcat is still behind the elementary school in decent shape. I would spend six glorious summers there before I aged out and could not play anymore. The fields there and everywhere else will still be there for when this pandemic is over. For now, we just pound our gloves, wear our caps and wait.