Friday Fire: When Did You Fall In Love With Your Team?

October 19, 1977. I am 9. Dad was a track star but I was quick…not fast. I wasn’t playing any sport as of yet, but Dad’s interest in boxing, college basketball and baseball…to a lesser extent gave the foundation you are reading today.

Fall Classic. Autumn. Visual breaths. TV drama. Crazy crowd.

The minute I sit down to watch, this cat with an obvious swag steps to the plate and bangs one out of the park on the first pitch to put his team up 4-3. Then he does it again on the first pitch…and again the same to put his team up 7-4. Counting the last game, 4 pitches, four homers. His team wins. Bedlam on the field. Bronx Zoo. He’s giving cats forearm shivers just to get off the field. I am in love. My eyes still wide visualizing the stadium 2 hours south in Chester, PA.

The pretty boys in blue…especially the big bespectacled catcher, another cat with the same 44 fame name, a penguin hot corner and an Aqua Velva man with a straight first base batting stance be peace…

For the last 22 years, I have lived and died everything Bronx Bomber. I catch wreck from those of lesser loves. Team loyalties driven by years of despondent final game confusing and empty emotion. Crazy people. Passionate people who want their teams to win the last game, but they do not. There is talk of money and hatred for greatness. Legends somehow become losers.

Players dream of rockin’ my pinstriped mind. They all say so while being introduced within the fast flash clicks of clamoring press caps. It consumes and there is maturity in that exact moment and sometimes there is not. Soundbites and visions of past lore intrigues the present mind and intimidates the unborn.

In Little League, I was drafted by the Yankees. Won a championship. Later coached the Yankees by default in one league and my second son was drafted in blue as well. How can I leave despite the heartbreak of the loss unusual? Babe Ruth’s dream bleeds in me. Lou Gehrig’s emotional spoken mind uncovers the smell of green grass and brown dirt. Bucky Dent gave me hope. Thurman Munson left me stuck. Billy Martin made me give a…

Mickey Rivers gave me opportunistic cleats. Derek Jeter gave me the professional mind. Steinbrenner cold gave me a sense of urgency gold. Brian Doyle double rain taught me resolve. Craig Nettles gave me love of glove. Goose Gossage fire. Ron Guidry lightening. Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry happiness but it was Reggie Jackson who showed me confidence in the moments where peers meek speak weak.

He looks like me in a place where most do not and even strikeouts from Mad Hungarian arms are epic. Frank White rock, Dan Quisenberry motion, Amos Otis and Willie Wilson speed, Darrel Porter chipmunk cheek, George Brett talent, U.L. Washington shortstop toothpick, Jim Frey chill…all won nothing because of him playing with teammates who never liked him, but remain victorious just the same. Back then? What a game.

He wore the number of Hank Aaron and I had no idea…my mind opens. Charles Barkley, Walter Payton, Chris Webber…all of 4′s future familiarity.


8 Responses to “Friday Fire: When Did You Fall In Love With Your Team?”

  1. Glenn says:

    I was 13 and went to the Orange Bowl to see the University of Miami play the unbeatable Nebraska Cornhuskers with Mike Rozier, Turner Gill and Irving Fryer. We played them close the whole game, but when the two point conversion at the end failed, the entire stadium erupted. I have never been any place where so many people were so happy.

    I have been a fan of the U ever since. It also didn’t hurt that that was the start of the dynasty years. Though they are coming back…

  2. Temple3 says:

    Great question. I’ve been a Yankee fan for as long as I can remember. As a 4th generation fan, I can’t recall a “date.” It’s always been. I don’t know anything else.

    The team that I am most fond of, though, is the Pittsburgh Steelers. When you say “fall in love,” I can help but think of the bad times and the good times. The team is first in Super Bowl wins and 2nd to the Dolphins in total wins since 1970. Still, there was a long period of 26 years between Super Bowl victories…and for me, that’s when Steeler Nation truly became what it is today.

    It was easy to be a fan in the 1970′s. It was painful when they were getting stopped on 4th and 3 at home by the Chargers. It was painful to see Sterling Sharpe convert a 3rd and 6 for the Broncos. It was even worse to manhandle the Patriots, knock Tom Brady out of the game, and watch a broken down Drew Bledsoe win in Pittsburgh.

    That’s the love…for me. It’s feeling the anguish of a tipped pass or a missed tackle…and having to wait till next year.

    In 2004, when the Patriots soundly defeated the Steelers 41-17 (by stuffing Jerome Bettis on 4th and 1; and picking off Roethlisberger for a TD), I was done with ALL SPORTS until the next football season. That was the first time that had ever happened. That has to be the moment. Of course, the Steelers won the Super Bowl the next season.

    So, there has always been love and loyalty, but that 2004 dagger cut to the bone!

    Thanks for the thought provoking question.

  3. Temple3 says:

    BTW —

    One of the funnier moments you can have with a Steeler fan is rattling off the names Bubby Brister, Mark Malone, Cliff Stoudt, Neil O’Donnell and Kordell Stewart.

    Be prepared to buy drinks! :)

  4. Miranda says:

    Before 1981, I think most black folks were indifferent or didn’t like the Crimson Tide or the Auburn Tigers unless a relative was on the team. Obviously both schools were more or less hated for a plethora of reasons that had nothing to do with sports. I know my Daddy couldn’t stand them. But all that changed the fall of 1981. Even though there had been many popular players that flowed through Bama and Auburn, there was nothing to prepare for the overnight adulation that flowed to the Crimson Tide and Bear Bryant when he named Walter Lewis as the starter at QB. NOTHING. That young black man being the field general for that team, at that time? Oh…….old folks, young folks, from the most rural of places in the Black Belt to the Steel Mills in Birmingham…I will never forget that year, we couldn’t get enough of watching a Tide game…just to see Walter.

  5. Eric Daniels says:

    Watching the Miami Hurricanes when Jim Kelly was playing and building what would become “THE U” when every other Florida team was playing “southern football” three yards and a cloud of dust , Miami was chucking the football left, right and everywhere else and their defense played with a swagger especially in the early 80′s . What I loved about U of M is that they played like the Oakland Raiders of the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s with lots of passion and the fact that everybody hated the “U” was even better because I hated Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State and especially Florida, because after Miami started winning championships Florida “punked out” AND didn’t want to play the Hurricanes.


  6. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Panger2009: “…Craig Nettles gave me love of glove. Goose Gossage fire. Ron Guidry lightening.” :) RT @Mizzzzo:

  7. ronglover says:

    ED: I’m a huge ‘Noles fan largely because of the game where Bowden went for two and could not convert. I believe it was ’87. Will explain later.

  8. [...] A Yankees Love Story by Mizzo @ the Starting Five [...]

Leave a Reply