This story is part of Only A Game’s “Time Show” which examines how the passage of time influences sports.
The week spent exploring how athletes and leagues and fans and the games themselves change over time has had me recalling my own earliest connection to sports.
When the game ended, I wasn’t sure whether the Giants had let me down, or vice versa.
One of the most powerful images of that connection involves a transistor radio I’d gotten for a birthday present when I was perhaps 7. I think it was the only thing for which I’d asked. I thought it was the most magnificent appliance anybody’d ever invented. It even had an ear plug, so that nobody would know when I was listening to night games after I was supposed to have been asleep.
In one of those games, the San Francisco Giants, late of New York, entered the ninth inning down 10 runs, at least as I remember it. In the ninth, cobbling together an unlikely sequence of base hits, walks, errors, and the occasional home run, they scored nine times. At some point early in that bonanza of runs, I picked up a bat and began pretending I was each Giant hitter. I swung at strikes and contemptuously let the balls go by. When a left-handed hitter came up, I stepped to the other side of the imaginary plate in my bedroom. I ran out the hits, insofar as the space would allow. I began to believe that this ritual was playing a part in the comeback. No. I began to know it.
When the Giants came up a run short, I sort of couldn’t believe it. I felt I’d been participating in nine runs worth of brilliance that was maybe magic. When the game ended, I wasn’t sure whether the Giants had let me down, or vice versa.
I don’t know why I remember that game when I swung a bat in my bedroom, hitter after hitter, run after run. Maybe it’s because I never did it again.
This segment aired on August 22, 2015.