Although I knew it would be a risky proposition, this past summer I took my five year old grandson to his first Major League baseball game. I felt it was time to start getting him acclimated to my favorite sport before he gets involved in the youth programs for football and soccer in his home state of Texas. It was a risk because my grandson does not keep still unless he has a video game controller in his hands or is looking at Transformers or SpongeBob SquarePants cartoons on television. But with the help of a giant pretzel, cotton candy, and a snow cone that he happily consumed; we stayed through seven innings.
My experience with him that evening made me reflect upon the first Major league Baseball game I attended.
The first one should have been on July 30, 1958. My two brothers went to see the Kansas City A’s play the New York Yankees at old Municipal Stadium with friends in the neighborhood, but decided they did not want their six year old little brother tagging along. The A’s were a mediocre team that year, finished in seventh place, 71 -83. Disappointed, I stayed home and listened to the game on my next to oldest brother’s transistor radio. The A’s were leading 2 – 0 after the top of the fifth inning when it started to rain. It was a heavy downpour and the game was called after one hour. My brothers got no sympathy from me when they returned home explaining how they got drenched while running to their car in the stadium parking lot. I laughed that they had gotten so wet.
It would be three years later; August 20, 1961, when I would walk into Municipal Stadium with my parents’ friend from Topeka and his son to see my first Major League game. The A’s were playing the Chicago White Sox. It was the first season for new A’s owner Charlie Finley and the team was headed that year to its second straight last place finish. The White Sox lineup included future Hall of Fame players Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio, and former Negro Leaguer Al Smith. Minnie Minoso, who many believe deserves a Hall of Fame plaque, was their left fielder.
Seeing a Major League playing field for the first time, I was awestruck by its beauty. The grass was the greenest green and the infield dirt the richest brown I had ever seen. I was mesmerized by the vivid brightness of the blues, grays, and whites of both teams’ uniforms. It seemed I was looking through a high definition color lens fifty years before HD TVs. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. I have never forgotten it.
There is also nothing like the sound of a solid hit off the bat of a Major Leaguer. I can still remember the sound of the A’s Norm Siebern’s second inning double. To me, there is no sound in any other sport like it. The A’s lost 5-3.
A double header was scheduled, but we could not stay for the second game as my parent’s friend wanted to visit friends that lived near the stadium before heading home. I was crushed and felt like crying as I left my seat. I vowed to never leave another Major League game before it was over, especially a doubleheader.
Even though I have been true to that vow nearly 100% over the years, I was smart enough not to push it with my grandson after seven innings.
What do you remember about seeing your first Major League baseball game?