It’s baseball season and the Dodgers haven’t lost a game yet. Is this heaven? No, but it’s about as close as I’m going to get. I still love the excitement of Opening Day, even if my team’s chances this year are the equivalent of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers – they’ll start good, but fade in the end.
Hard to be a Dodgers fan these days, but that’s what being a fan is all about. And I get asked a lot how a guy from Mississippi is a Dodgers fan. Pretty simple, really. I became one because of one pitch in 1978.
I grew up listening to the Cardinals on the radio in Mississippi. Back in those days, you got most of your baseball that way. The weekend and Monday night games – all three of them – were usually regional games, which for us meant the Atlanta Braves, who couldn’t suck enough back then (even with Hank Aaron). Or the Cardinals. To this day, they still hold a special place in my baseball heart. And don’t be bad-mouthing St. Louis around my daughter. She’ll take your head off.
But in the late ‘70s, two teams were the premier teams in the bigs: Yankees and Dodgers. The 1978 World Series was a rematch of the previous year (Yankees won). And the Yankees had a player I just could not stand. Reggie Jackson. And the ’78 Series became one of the more memorable ones because of him. But not in Game Two.
That game was played in L.A. The Dodgers had hammered the Yankees in Game One. And were leading this one late in the game. So, top of the 9th, Dodgers are up by a run. Yankees are down to two outs and have two men on. And Reggie Jackson comes to the plate.
The Dodgers have a 21-year-old rookie on the mound, name of Bob Welch. Kid throws hard. He works the count to 3-2. And Jackson digs in , ready for the fast ball that he – and the rest of the universe – knows is coming. It does. He swings. And misses. Game over, Dodgers win the game (but, alas, not the Series). I became a Dodgers fan that instant. Have been ever since.
Let’s go, Dodgers.