Love of the Game
I have been a lover of baseball since I was very little. I loved playing the game and anything related. With the neighborhood
kids we played various games. If it was just two of us, we played catch, if three of us we played “pickle’, the rundown game between two bases. If we were lucky enough to have more kids, we played a regular baseball game. The “regular” game though was far from 9 players on each side. Sometimes the hitting team had to supply their own catcher, and even the pitcher if we were few in number.
Depending on where we played, which was usually in our back yards, we always had local ground rules. If you hit the ball in a neighbor’s yard, or if you hit it into the creek, it was an automatic out! If we were lucky enough to get more kids to play, we would meet atone of the parks in town and play on a real diamond! Yes, most of my youth was spent playing these games. When I was 7 or 8, league play became an option. I played in Kiwanis league, then Little league, then school leagues, but the pick-up games continued. When we didn’t have a scheduled game to play, we shagged flies and grounders. Depending on I where I lived that game had different names: Flies and Grounders, or 21. In both games you had to catch cleanly three fly balls or seven grounders, and if you did so you would become the hitter. We also played Home Run Derby usually with a Wiffle Ball so we didn’t break as many windows.
I not only loved playing baseball, but I also loved following the Dodgers, my father was a Dodger fan, so I guess I inherited
my love of the Dodgers from him. When I was seven, which was when I probably began to pay more attention to following baseball, the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. Following them from over 3000 miles away wasn’t easy. The newspapers never had the late-night scores for the games on the west coast. It would often be the following day before I would get the scores of the games. I would be able at times to listen to games on the radio if I could tune in to a 50,000 KW radio station. I could listen to games in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and on rare occasions Atlanta. Most of the time I listened to the games in bed at night on my transistor radio. The reception would usually wane in and out as I listened, and I would also wane in and out as I would fall asleep. The cheer of the crowd, when something big happened in the game, would often wake me up! I always had to listen to the opponent’s broadcasters since I could not get reception from LA. The only time I would hear Vin Scully, the Dodgers’ broadcaster, was when he was working for NBC for the Game of the Week, but rarely were the Dodgers in that game. I loved listening to him.
When I was 15, I travelled across the country with my cousin, Marc, and three other boys, with Father Markert, a priest from
the Albany diocese. We spent three weeks visiting National Parks. I cannot remember in which park we had stopped for the night, but to my delight I was able to listen to the Dodger game live from Dodger Stadium and I heard the voice of Vince Scully broadcasting the game! It was the first of several games I was able to listen to on that trip. As a baseball fan listening to the home broadcaster for your team makes the broadcast special, but as a Dodger fan listening to Vince Scully broadcast a game was a unique experience I will always remember. He added so much to the drama of the game with his stories and knowledge. For 67 years he broadcasted the Dodger games until he retired in 2016. Vince Scully died on August 2, 2022, many tributes have been paid to him since. As for me I thank him for helping me love the game, and the Dodgers. Vince was a devout Catholic, I pray that he will be rewarded for his faith in the Lord and have the gift of eternal life with God in heaven.
God’s Blessings and peace, Father Bill