People may follow a team or a player for a lot of reasons, but some are faithful for no reason at all. Look at that whole TJ/Roethlisberger thing, for example.
Looking back, as far as I can remember, I can’t recollect any baseball season that didn't get me excited.
Growing up was rough: We moved a lot, and I was shy. But baseball, in so many ways, saved me.
I was a tomboy, athletic, and could outplay any boy my age. We played in the streets of Cleveland, using the sewers for bases, under the street lights till someone (or everyone) got called in for the night.
My dad always worked two jobs, but some of my best memories were when he’d come home late at night and throw me pop flies until I am sure he wanted to die. Maybe it was an escape for him, too.
I collected the cards, photos, and made scrapbooks. I would mail each card to the player, in care of Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and I always got a signed card back.
Someone had signed them, I guess. But back then, it was just a thrill.
After years of losing and empty seats, something happened in the '90s. The Tribe, consisting then of Thome, Ramirez, Vizquel, Baerga, Sandy Alomar Jr., and company actually got good!
I remember the first time I had a chance to go to the new Jacobs Field. Tickets were hard to come by; you waited in line like you were waiting for concert tickets. I was lucky enough to get bleacher seats and I couldn’t have been happier.
I got up on gameday, put on my Baerga t-shirt, walked out the door...
And slid on the wet deck, literally bending my ankle in the wrong direction.
I knew it was sprained or broken, so I was faced with a tough decision: I could either go to the game or go to the hospital. I went to the game.
I trudged on. I walked to the stadium and climbed up three million steps to the top of the bleachers and looked down on that field for the first time. I will never forget that color green I saw, and the white uniforms.
I can’t remember now if the Indians won or lost that contest. I do remember them cutting off my shoe in the emergency room and being on crutches for the next month, but I was at the ballpark that day.
Other good memories of the Tribe and baseball revolve around my grandmother. If she couldn’t get a game on the television, she’d plug in the radio and sit outside and listen to it. She was their biggest fan.
She was nearly paralyzed at the end and had congestive heart failure. Her lungs had to be tapped once and the fluid drained, but she said, “never again." So we said goodbye, watched a few more Tribe games, and drank root beer floats until she died.
There have been a lot of highs and lows. Watching the game today, a lot of things just came back. Today was a game Nana would have loved.
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