So today is opening day for the annual Johnny Appleseed Festival here in the hotbed of civilization- but as I type at approximately noon, it has been constantly raining at one level or another SINCE 4 AM. So with JAF postponed for me until tomorrow, I have a boring story and some fungus pictures taken in the woods.
The story begins with a visit to Arlee Bird's blog mere moments ago, where part of his story was about memories re-arranging themselves chronologically as you age. And my favorite example of this was my very first Major League Baseball game, some 39 years ago in Detroit. Among the things I remember that didn't happen were the game being on a Friday night (it was a Wednesday- June 22nd, in fact), and 3-3 and 5-5 ties that never occurred. But as I went through the play by play, my memory wasn't ALL that far off...
My sister's brother in law took my nephew (11) and me (15). He was a huge Yankee fan, and entertained us on the way with lots of Yankee stories. We weren't all that big of Yankee fans (I was an A's fan- still am- and Troy liked the White Sox), but neither of us had been to a game before, and seeing giants like Reggie Jackson and Mark "the bird" Fidrych was a real thrill- even if Fidrych only ever warmed up and Reggie was greeted every at-bat with choruses of "Reg-gie-sucks" that literally shook the stadium. I had a special eye out for guys like Tiger 3B Aurelio Rodriguez and his black glove, Tommy Veryzer, and the incredible prison-to-MLB story Ron LeFlore.
(Note: Yes, I know some of you aren't big sports fans. But this is a special moment of my life and I feel like sharing. So take it for what it is, and if it doesn't meet your interests, enjoy the nice pictures.)
The top of the first saw Veryzer boot a grounder, Thurman Munson hit a two-run triple, and Reggie knock him in on a groundout for a 3-0 lead. Munson, who would die in a plane crash two years later, amazed me how fast he was on the bases for a catcher, and I became a fan of his despite myself.
The Tigers scored on LeFlore's leadoff triple and a single by Tito Fuentes; but unlike my memory, which says the home team tied the game, it stayed 3-1. Until the top of the 4th, when the Yanks added two and went up 5-1. The Tigers retaliated with my first ever home run- Jason Thompson's 12th of 31 on the year. Here my memory says, the Tigers tied it at 5, but again it would be wrong.
In fact, it was proven wrong quite quickly, as a walk and a Cliff Johnson HR led off the next inning and put the score at 7-2. But here, my memory pulls a comeback.
Yank pitcher Ken Holtzman was greeted in the 6th with a a double by "Big Red", or as the Montrealers say, "Le Grande Orange", Rusty Staub, followed by a 2-run Steve Kemp HR that cut it to 7-4. Then after a strikeout, Mickey Stanley singled, and John Wockenfuss (who tapped his fingers on the bat grip before every pitch, which we thought was neat) doubled him in to end Holtzman's night. Dick Tidrow came in, struck out another Tiger, before pinch-hitter Phil Mankowski homered to tie things at 7-7. THAT I remembered right.
In the bottom of the 7th, the old gang struck again; Kemp doubled, Stanley singled him in, and Wockenfuss hit just his 4th HR (Mankowski's was his 2nd, BTW), and the home boys were up 10-7. "Uncle Dave" cursed a bit.
34-year old reliever John Hiller was on the mound for the Yankees' 8th, and it was obviously past the old-timer's bedtime. A pair of singles sandwiched by two outs led to Graig Nettles' at bat. Nettles was another Yankee I loved despite hating the team; his fielding was nothing short of magical. He hit a 3-run home run and the game was tied; but the Yanks weren't done. Munson singled, and hustled to third on Chris Chambliss' single right afterward. That ended the night for Steve Foucault, who had replaced Hiller, and Bob Sykes got to face Reggie, who had grounded out, doubled and scored, and hit into a force-out. These were the moments he was born for, and he doubled in two runs and put the Tigers behind 12-10.
It came down to a bottom of the ninth last stand. Reliever Sparky Lyle was in, and he got 2 quick outs. But then he gave up singles to Kemp and Stanley, and was pulled after going 2-0 to Wockenfuss, who Ken Clay finished walking to load the bases. Chuck Scrivener, a pinch hitter who would collect 6 hits all season, bounced a ball to Willie randolph at second- who booted it, and a run scored- 12-11. But 6th inning hero Phil Mankowski, who stayed in to take over for Rodriguez at third, popped up to Bucky Dent to end the game.
After that, all I remember was falling asleep until we were about 5 miles from home, and this song being on the Radio...
...which in itself was somewhat iconic for me. I had discovered Song Hits magazine, which printed lyrics to hot and up-and-coming songs. And though I knew the lyrics from the magazine, it was the first time I actually heard the song.