Most of us watched the World Series or listened on the radio during our childhood. We often tried to fake an illness to stay home on game days. When I was growing up, the games were only on the radio. Once they were televised, I just had to watch a weekday game, weekend games were not enough for a young baseball fan.
I resolved as I grew older, that I would attend the World Series. Back then my favorite team, since they were on TV all the time, were the mighty New York Yankees. Their stars were Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and later Roger Maris. And they won many world titles.
But in the late Fifties, the life of young baseball fans changed forever, when the Dodgers and Giants moved west. Coming from central California, we had to choose between the Giants and Dodgers. This was pretty easy, since the Giants had the best player of all time, the great Willie Mays.
I thought I might get to attend my first World Series game in 1962, when the Yankees played the Giants. I would be a sophomore in high school. We tried to get tickets, through mail order, but were unable. I was fully prepared to miss school to go to a World Series game.
Fast forward ten years to 1972. I was working at my first post college job at a pharmacy in Alameda, just across the estuary from Oakland. The Oakland Athletics were building a juggernaut of a team, led by Joe Rudi, Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson.
Many of the players lived in Alameda, and regularly offered tickets when they dropped by the pharmacy. We would often go, about 4 to 6 of us. Average attendance back then was three to four thousand since everyone hated the owner, Carlie Finley.
That year, 1972 was the first of three consecutive World Series wins for the Athletics. Tickets were hard to get, but we figured out a way to get tickets. Since parking was a mess, we rode up to the front and parked my roommate’s motorcycle in the front lot. Just as the anthem was finishing, we offered the scalpers about half price on their tickets. We were seated by the first pitch. Better yet, we were back home, sipping a cold beer in celebration, when the post-game show came on TV.
Though my son was an ardent fan, we had very few chances to attend the World Series during this youth. But along game 2010, the beginning of the Giants championship run on 2010, 2012, and 2014. My neighbor Donna and I decided to go to Game 2 in San Francisco against the Texas Rangers. I had a thousand dollars in cash, and we were not to be denied.
Things looked bleak for a while, as very few scalpers were around. Then I found them across the street from the stadium, and we were rushed by dozens of scalpers. I found a guy who had two seats, “near 3rd base” he claimed, and the price was right, $500 each! Again, we waited until the Anthem was played, and we sat down as Matt Cain delivered the first pitch. The game was a rout, our Giants won big, 9-0 on October 28, 2010. They would go on to win the Series 4 games to one.
And yes, if you are asking, there are few bigger sports thrills than seeing your hometown team in the World Series. It compares favorably to the Niners in the Super Bowl, the Dubs in the NBA Finals, or (see me praying on my knees) my California Golden Bears someday in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.