30 years ago I was seven and had just discovered baseball. Actually it was the World Series in 1976 when the Yankees lost to the Reds that I became a baseball and a Yankees fan in one very short Fall Classic. The next year I was hooked: baseball cards, watching games, dreaming of being a major leaguer when I grew up and glory be, a trip to the World Series including sitting in left field bleachers with my dad for Game 6 where Reggie hit 3 home runs (on three pitches!) and the Bronx Bombers won the World Series.
ESPN produced and is airing an eight episode TV series of the book the Bronx is Burning based on the book, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning . I’d recommend it to anyone that likes baseball or American history or barely cheesy T.V. miniseries. While I rooted with the ignorance of youth, the Yankees internally battled like no team before them. Owner, manager, coaches, captains, players played out what has become the modern norm of “money ball”. New York City had a mayoral race to see who could take over the city on the verge of bankruptcy. A lightning strike shrouded all of New York in darkness that spurred a night of looting, arson, and deaths. And the Son of Sam’s serial killing spree went on into it’s second year. But for Steinbrener, Billy Martin, Yogi, Reggie, Thurmon, Bucky, Nettles, Chamblis, Randolf, Louuuuuuu Pinella, Mick the Quick it was the worst favorite year of their lives.
I suspect they will re-air it in it’s entirety, so set your DVRs if this is at all engaging you.
Now, for the astute reader that is saying “did he say he was at game 6 of the ’77 World Series?” yes, I was. It will assuredly remain a highlight of my life. My father had realized how obsessed I was (for a 7 year old) and when the Yankees returned to New York from LA, up 3 games to 2 he took me to the game. We went to the Bronx without tickets and he bought two outfield seats for $40 a piece from a guy that preferred to conduct his business in a neighboring bowling alley. I remember this clearly as I waited out in the street … in the Bronx … when I was seven. It was thrilling. I remember someone else had $100 tickets behind home plate, that seemed a huge sum of money. Recalling as best I can I can only remember the three home runs, all to left field. I do very clearly remember a man – who I later realized was pretty smashed – listing me above his head after the 2nd and 3rd home runs. His seat was the last before the a 100 foot drop to the field exits. I was horrified. It was glorious. I now remember having too many cokes, because this guy bought me a coke every time he got a beer.
My dad stapled our tickets to the game guide (like the one pictured just above) and if you ever come over to my folk’s place I can show it to you.