The Top 10 Baseball Memories From My Youth
Last week I issued a challenge to all baseball and baseball card bloggers on ’30-YOC’. The task was simple, tell us your Top 10 greatest baseball memories. And while that sounds easy, once you start thinking about them, the numbers pile up quick and if you stick to the rule of ’10’, several miss the cut.
So no offense to Doc Gooden or Wade Boggs or Mark Grace or Kirby Puckett or Dale Murphy or Greg Maddux or Jose Canseco or Orel Hershiser. But you guys didn’t make the cut. Did you impress me during my youth? Absolutely! But there were other moments and other players that impacted me greater.
And here is my submission. It should be noted that the numbers used below are strictly a counter. It would be very hard for me to rank these moments/players – each impacted me and my love for the game when I was younger.
1 – Kirk Gibson’s home run during Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. The play still gets aired each fall, and rightfully so. This moment is what baseball is all about. Gibson was able to create one of the most dramatic scenes in baseball history and I remember staying up very late at night and watching this game with my cousin. Ironically, we were both pulling for Oakland.
2 – Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s record of consecutive games played. Cal was the king of baseball. Not only was he the ‘Iron-Man’ he was a class act and his lap around the ballpark shaking hands and thanking the fans for their support still gives me chills several years later.
3 – The Wizard of Oz. I remember being in awe of Ozzie Smith and his audience-thrilling acrobatic entrance onto the baseball diamond during the 1985 World Series. He may have done the flip a million times before, but on this stage and in front of the world, I too watched in amazement.
4 – Bo Jackson. A truly 1-of-a-kind talent, Bo Jackson captivated 2 sports at the same time. He is the first player that I can recall that became a pop-culture icon. Everybody knew Bo!!!
5 – The ball that went through Buckner’s legs… Man this was a rough one. This moment during the 6th game of the World Series was the turning point that eventually led to the Mets beating the Red Sox to win the championship. I was pulling for Boston and their loss in 1986 was my first taste of sport-related heartbreak.
6 – Rickey Henderson’s steal to become the all-time stolen base king. Rickey was great. Rickey knew he was great. Rickey had no problem telling you that he was great. But he was right. The greatest lead-off hitter and base runner of all-time was an absolute joy to watch. He earned the confidence that he had – nobody will ever come close to breaking his record.
7 – Andre Dawson. In 1982, and at the age of 7, I had a coach in Little League say ‘Nice throw Hawk’ to me after I rifled one in from the outfield. A bit puzzled, I asked my dad what he meant. And from there I did everything I could to learn about Andre Dawson. His career has impacted my love for the sport and collecting baseball cards more than any other single player. I love ‘The Hawk’!!!
8 – 1997 Florida Marlins World Series championship team. We all know what happened to that roster after 1997, but during that season and through the playoffs, the Marlins were thrilling to watch. Boasting a roster full of All-stars, the team took the sport by storm and won a championship during just their 5th season as a major league baseball team. This victory marked the first time in my life that a team I cheered for the team that actually won the title. What can I say, I love the losers….
9 – Pete Rose and hit #4,192. I have vivid memories of watching this game on television with my dad. And when Pete finally connected for hit #4,192, we both stood up and gave Pete Rose the same standing ovation that he received from 40,000+ fans in that stadium. A moment I will never forget!!!
10 – Joe Carter’s walk-off home run. Joe Carter realized every kid’s dream with that homer. The walk off home run to win a championship title is what we all talked about and role-played with our friends in the neighborhood when we were young. To watch someone accomplish that feat, and to see the joy on his face, was priceless.
And there you have it. It took quite a bit of shuffling around but these are 10 moments/players that I will never forget. These, along with many others, are the memories that I cherish from the sport that hooked me more than 20 years ago.
Baseball is a fabulous sport, and I find that even with the radical changes that have occurred in regards to training and technology, there is still a very strong link to the tradition and basics of the game that make it so enjoyable.
I hope you enjoyed reading through this post as much I enjoyed writing it for you!