On Sunday, October 14, 1984, my 7-year-old self sat Indian style on the floor in the living room of our modest, happy, fun, family home with my pillow and blanket just feet from the television. I wasn’t riveted to the TV for the newest cartoon though. Care Bears, My Little Pony and Barbie would never even be in competition to hold my attention. I didn’t realize it at the time but this would mark the beginning of my passion for the game of baseball.
It was early afternoon and the Detroit Tigers were in game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series versus the San Diego Padres. I don’t remember everything about the game but I do recall much of the major plays from the Tiger’s first World Series victory since the unforgettable 1968 team. I vividly remember those last moments, specifically the last couple of innings.
I mean who can possibly forget Kirk Gibson up to bat against Goose Gossage in the bottom of the 8th inning with 1 out, the Tigers leading 5 to 4? Tiger’s manager, Sparky Anderson, mouthing from the dugout, “he don’t want to walk you.” Gibby was already 2 for 3 with a homer, a walk and a single in the dramatic game so Goose convincingly argued with manager, Dick Williams, to not intentionally walk him. Gossage believed he had Gibson figured out this time, he could beat him like he had since his rookie year with the Tigers. Gibson’s very first fastball in the major leagues came to him courtesy of Goose and Gibby would be retired many times from the batter’s box by him after that initial face off. This time though, the first pitch was a ball and the 2nd pitch would end up in the right field seats in the upper deck.
Now I didn’t know the history between these two phenomenal baseball players when I was a young girl watching this game so intently but this moment sparked a passion within me. Since this moment, I would read, study, play Little League and high school softball, attend Tiger games, play neighborhood home run derby, watch any MLB games on TV, analyze this game with the best of them, participate in fantasy baseball leagues, sketch and paint baseball art-all amazing memories for which I am eternally grateful.
That being shared, what I hold most dear is the connection baseball has given to me with those I love. Even if a family or friendship was difficult, we could always relate to baseball together. And on the other side of that it somehow strengthen the relationships I have presently with family and friends. This passion unites people and tends to bond you in ways I cannot describe.
Yes, I love my Detroit Tigers. However my love affair with baseball began in my early childhood sparked and cultivated by family. Forever grateful.