I watched the first game of the 2008 World Series last night and wondered how the event might seem to an impressionable 10-year-old getting acquainted with the game for the first time.
I blather in this fashion because it struck me just how much technology has changed since I watched my first World Series nearly 50 years ago. It’s probably hard for younger people to imagine it, but television didn’t rule the roost in those days and the World Series games were afternoon affairs, meaning they conflicted with, ugh, school attendance.
So the first World Series I remember much about was the 1959 Dodgers/White Sox clash, and my familiarity stemmed from an odd combination of the World Series cards included in 1960 Topps (shown) and an 8-mm film that I remember seeing at a Little League banquet that summer.
I don’t remember what was on the menu, but I do remember big Ted Kluszewski stabbing a fierce line drive at first base. Even though he was nearing the end of the line at that point – and his greatest years had been with the Reds – I became a Big Klu fan for good. For most of the other memories of that Series, I couldn’t tell you if it came from that highlight film (which we saw several times), or from studying the Topps World Series cards. I do recall being confused why there weren’t World Series cards in my already-treasured 1959 set. I would have liked to have a look at the 1958 World Series in that fashion, even though my Milwaukee Braves got thumped by the Yankees.
The first World Series game I ever remember seeing on television was in October of 1960, by which time my father had taken a job in New York City and we we’re living in Yonkers. I raced home from school on Oct. 13 just in time to see the last couple of innings of one of the great games of all time, capped off by Bill Mazeroski’s historic home run. I was already a full-fledged National League fan by then, so I couldn’t have been more thrilled – unless it had been the Braves.
That’s a pretty good way to ensure that a 10-year-old would develop a lifelong addiction to the game of baseball.