I stood in the parking lot of Kaufman Stadium, circa 1978. The game had ended. I can’t remember if the Royals won or lost, but it didn’t matter. My sights were set on a bigger victory—I was determined to get a glimpse, better yet, an up close photo of a special third baser: George Brett. Other preteen girls had crushes on David Cassidy and Andy Gibb, but my young heart was set on a baseball player.
I don’t know why I was taken with baseball at that early age. My dad wasn’t a huge fan, but my older brother was a high school baseball player. I went to a few of his games growing up. My dad would pitch to him in the backyard for practice and make me field the balls, which I loathed. I didn’t want to play baseball; I wanted to watch baseball. (Many years later), I even lost my virginity to a baseball player. Sometime during my freshman year at college, his team was in town to play our local team. Details are fuzzy, but let's just say he hit more than a triple.
As I got older, baseball became less important—until a fateful day in 2006. I was living in Los Angeles and wanted to repay my friend David for looking after my dog. He wouldn’t let me pay him, so I decided to do something out of the ordinary for both of us—I bought Dodgers tickets. That Dodger game, with the smell of the stadium, the roar of the crowd, the crack of the bat, the camaraderie of singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and the zen of the game, sparked my latent passion for baseball once again. I had not owned a television in 20 years, but I immediately bought a 42-inch tv and signed up for cable, for the sole purpose of watching the Dodgers that summer. I watched every. single. game. And I’ve continued to watch almost every game since.
Baseball became a comfort for me when I was single, when I was lonely, when I needed to decompress, when I needed to escape, when I needed to feel a part of something bigger, and when I wanted to connect to this great but often disconnected city of Los Angeles. Vin Scully became the voice of my summers. He was a much-welcomed friend that I would miss each winter and eagerly look forward to reuniting with each spring.
Eventually I married, not to a baseball fan but to a NBA fan, specifically a Spurs fan. And he hated baseball. He would say, “I don't get why anyone would watch baseball.” But he soon found out that if he wanted to spend time with me each summer, he would have to learn the Dodgers’ roster. And bless his heart, it didn’t take long. My solo baseball fandom found an adoring partner, and it’s been pure joy for both of us.
….The Royals players made their way out of the locker room and into the parking lot, and, oh my, there is UL Washington and Frank White, there’s Willie Wilson, Amos Otis and Hal McRae, and finally like a screen idol come to life, there he was, freshly showered with perfectly semi-wet hair, all dapper in his light blue, polyester, wide lapel suit, and there he went—I had been so mesmerized that when he zipped by me I fumbled for my camera too late and snapped what would turn out to be a blurry (but treasured) photo of my idol whizzing past me on his way to the next game in the next town. But that was enough. My erratic love affair with baseball was solidified. I had brushed greatness. Sort of.
I now realize that my young crush was never really about George Brett—though he was super cute!—it was more about how the great game of baseball made me feel. And that would take an entire post just to try to describe, and just for me to try to understand.
Thank you Vin Scully for keeping me company these last ten years.