Summer 1986….. “You never forget your first time.”
I had just turned 8 years old. Perfect grades meant that I could skip the last week of the second grade to go on a family vacation. This was no ordinary family vacation, we were hitting the road Griswold style. Traveling in a circle that started in Salt Lake City, South to the Grand Canyon, East to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico where I saw my first stalagmite and stalactite a completely unforgettable experience. Do you remember the difference between stalagmites and stalactites? I still do.
On to Dallas to see my older cousin and her kids that are just a bit younger than me. We had a regular talent show, while Tommy showed us how talented he was on the Violin and how he could make a better paper airplane than me. What a thrilling time, but hey, no hotel costs….or in my family’s case, no KOA Campground costs. If my cousin was actually a friend maybe the Rangers were in town and that could have been my first game and could have changed history forever. Alas, I don’t even remember my cousin’s name at the moment and we didn’t go to the game. Before I go to far, it was really nice of them to take us in. I’m sure we weren’t the best of guests, in fact I think I pee’d the bed that night.
In Louisiana I had one of the best meals of my young life. I realized you couldn’t find a place that could cook chicken this good in Utah. Innocence now gone and replaced by an acquired taste of great barbecue chicken that made my nose run and my eyes water, my life would never be the same.
Carbondale, Illinois was our next destination, where my Uncle Kay lived. We went to Springfield, birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. I saw fireflies for the first time, we went to some place with some cousins and did some thing where I’m sure I thought I am going to remember this forever!!! I do however remember my Uncle walking into his study, picking up the phone and ordering the tickets. I was going to a St. Louis Cardinals game.
There are really only a few things I remember about the game, Ozzie did a backflip, every 30 seconds someone yelling “Busch Beer here,” I voted for all-stars, our seats were near the top of the stadium, I could see the yardage markers for the St. Louis Cardinals football team, and the most important thing I remember was that the Cardinals won and the Cubs lost.
This is where I’m supposed to blow you away with some huge dramatic scene or tell you that I knew at that time my life would never be the same. But, the moment really wasn’t very dramatic. Sure, I went to my first game with my dad, but it’s not like he was a huge fan of the Cardinals, nor did he have a vested interest in any Major League Baseball team. He didn’t tell me any stories during my first game, he didn’t teach me how to score, he didn’t show the players he knew and spit out random facts and stats. No, my Dad was enjoying the game the same way I was, for the very first time. He likes baseball, but being from Idaho and living on a farm meant he couldn’t follow a team closely. The only baseball story he has told was about the 1960 World Series between the Yankees and the Pirates. It was spud harvest and they had worked out in the fields all day. His mom made a huge dinner for him, his Dad, brothers and all the workers they had that day. They came in for the final inning of Game 7. One of the most famous and dramatic final innings of a World Series. Bill Mazeroski hit a home run to win the game and the series for the Pirates. Watch the video below, it is an unforgettable moment especially to an 10-year-old boy who was supposed to be harvesting potatoes.
I guess the most interesting thing about this experience is that it was so forgettable, but I will never forget. Memories often start with the simplest of things. You never know today what you will never forget for the rest of your life. The same lessons apply to raising kids, you never know today what your kids will remember for the rest of their lives. My Dad didn’t think that I would become this baseball nut when we went to the game. I’m sure he was just happy that we weren’t fighting or crying.
Posted in the link below is the box score of my first Major League Baseball game. With the help baseball-reference.com, I will never forget my first time, or as you will see, any other time.