Duke Snider future Hall of Famer with me and unknown player 1952 or 3
My dad Hank, and brother Allen at the 1980 Cubs Opener. He did get to go to the '79 World Series and offered to take me. I told him I'll wait to go to my first World Series Game when the Cubs are playing. He passed away in June of that year.
My Dad and myself and the TV that brought baseball into our front room since 1948.
I just wanted to get the old time feeling using this image.
I started to watch the Cubs game just after it started tonight on WGN. At first I didn't know who they were playing and I didn't notice a familiar backdrop. Then the cameras flashed on the Marlins home team uniform. Boring... the words MIAMI with little imagination. The Cubs pitcher Garza looked good, but I left when they showed the backstop was made of a giant aquarium with tropical fish. It reminded me when I was 13, and my dad took me to Florida. We took City of Miami / Illinois Central train for a couple of week summer vacation. We stayed at the old Sunset hotel at 3rd and Collins on South Beach. Most of the main Hotels were closed for the summer, because they were air cooled and not air conditioned. My dad was there for business on the Miami Produce Market. We visited some relatives, and took in several movies. He treated me
to several Minor League night games at Miami Stadium. The were no seats in the outfield and no double deck in back of the plate or down the lines. It was well lit, and the greengrass shined. The outfield wall had a brand new coat of greenpaint. The foul lines ran up the wall and extended 15 feet into the air and was made of bright pink florescent tubes. To me It was a beautiful new ballpark. The Cubs and Sox ballparks that I was familiar with since the mid-1940s, were already old, yet still majestic. Dad bought me a score card with the names of the players, and listed their numbers. I remember an ad for a car dealer tag-line "Just over the Right Field Fence". There were a few contest and puzzles, and lots of local advertising. The front cover had a imaginary scene of a full moon over Miami Stadium with silhouettes of palm trees beyond the outfield fence. I remember a few future Washington Senators or St Louis Brown's played for the visiting team.
The following year, The Dodgers were splitting their Spring traing games between Miami, and Vero Beach. I decided to go to the game myself, I took several buses to get there. I brought my dads Kodak camera. I took photos of Chuck Dressen, big number 9 on his uniform. I was able to get a smiling Preacher Roe sitting in his car. Somehow I was able to get about 6 or 7 Dodgers players to pose with me. Don Newcomb stood next to me in a safari pith helmet surrounded by Dodgers. Those pictures have disappeared in time. However, I still have the shot of Preacher Roe, and one of me standing with Duke Snider, and another player(attached). Can you imagine that happening today?
Just because I stopped watching the Cubs tonight because I just don't think tropical or any fish belongs at a baseball game. The only thing good, it sparked me to think about my Dad, and minor league baseball in Miami, and a time that when I was able to have MLB players take pictures of me, with some of his teammates. The Dodgers were in their home white uniforms with blue lettering and numbers... I was used to seeing them in their gray traveling uniforms when I was at Wrigley, or watched them on TV. I wished I still had the photographs. I am unable to recall the names of the rest of the players without the photos.
Now this brings to mind another Dodger story, I was attending the Major League Winter Meetings in Atlanta. I was sitting with the Bragan Brothers, manager Bobby and Jimmy, their wivws and a couple of great Southern League Association's Lady fans. Art Clarkson who owned the Birmingham Barons asked me if I would take a photo of him, and his wife with Tommy Lasorta. I was glad to. I manged to get them very close to each other and crop out the the background tables. I got a great smile from all of them, when I told them to smile on the count of 3, Say Cheese! So I started, one,two and then on the count of 3 I shouted "say... GO CUBBIES!"
Now that reminded me of another WINTER MEETING STORY. One of the nicest thing anybody connected to the game of baseball decided to spend time with me. Remember, I was in my Bleacher Preacher outfit, and wore the solar pith helmet with a propeller on it. I was sitting on a couch in the corridor, when Jim Leland who was with the Pirates then sat down next to me. He recognized me from the Wrigley bleachers. When ever the Pirates were in, he always came out to the out field wall, and talk baseball with the regulars everyday fans. We had a great baseball connversation for nearly a half a hour. What was remarkable, during that time he did not light up a cigarette once. He was known to light up quite often during a game.
When I was a kid, I always enjoyed reading about the history of the game, and about the players and mangers who made it our national pastime. How fortunate that I have met so many of my heros and greats of the game. Baseball HAS BEEN VERY, VERY GOOD TO ME and thankful for all the great memories. Today, like so many fans, I have been Priced OUT of the Ballpark at the face value of a ticket.