For the last couple of nights I’ve kept an eye on the World Series. Baseball is, after all, one of the great American pastimes, right up there with apple pie and mom. Although I’m American and partial to our national pastimes, that’s not why I watch.
I watch because I like the Cardinals. When I was a kid, my family went to Florida for Easter vacation and, what do you know, the Cardinals were at the same hotel for spring training. There wasn’t anything special about them, they looked like regular guys. Just more grown-ups in a world already packed tight with adults.
But these dudes were fun. And they weren’t very old, one or two were probably still teenagers. They were always zipping in and out, coming and going, laughing and joking around. How was I supposed to know they were famous? I was a kid. And a girl, besides.
One afternoon I tagged along with Steve Carlton and Nelson Briles to Steak ‘n Shake. My family and I had dinner with Bob Gibson. I met Lou Brock and Curt Flood, Orlando Cepeda and Tim McCarver. They gave me a bat, a signed baseball, and a glove. Have you ever tried to board a plane carrying a baseball bat? Don’t.
Athletes were different back then, so were their fans. Civility was still the order of the day. And ball players didn’t wear necklaces that look like part of a ring toss game as they do now. Curious about their popularity, I checked google. They’re called ‘titanium phiten ropes’, manly-wear designed to improve performance on the field by equalizing the electric current in your body.
Baseball is full of superstitions like that. But players used to stop changing socks or quit shaving to keep a winning streak alive. Not accessorize.
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