This post was part of my Zero to Sixty in One Year blog. It turned up in one of the earliest posts relating to my elementary school days. In light of recent events, it’s coming off the bench one more time. . .
And, of course, I mean 1962 Giants baseball. All the kids I knew were Giants fans. There was one kid — a football nut– who called himself Nomo after Leo Nomellini, but the rest of us were glued to the radio whenever Lon Simmons and Russ Hodges called the games on KSFO.
I drew the entwined SF logo on my folders for school. It was, to put it mildly, an exciting season for Bay Area baseball fans. Who played then? Oh, just Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Felipe and Matty Alou, Gaylord Perry and the amusing combination of Chuck Hiller, Stu Miller and Tom Haller. This trio inspired Danny Kaye to write a song about the Giants/Dodgers rivalry and a game that may or may not have actually happened.
Just a snippet of the very silly lyrics:
Miller hollers Hiller
Hiller hollers Miller
And that’s the Miller, Hiller, Haller hallelujah twist!
Baseball season was shorter then. The whole long extended season wasn’t invented yet, so the World Series between the two winningest teams in the National and American leagues duked it out in the late fall, right around the High Holidays as God intended.
I saw my first baseball game at Candlestick, maybe even that year. My father took me on a sunny spring afternoon. That grassy field! The vendors holding up their wares and hollering “Beer here!” The aroma of popcorn and hot dogs! What a wonderful world inside. He even bought me a little tchotchka to commemorate the occasion: a little gold bat and ball on a tiny chain that I kept for years, even after it got tarnished and scratched up.
My dad taught us how to play baseball and would greet us when we got home from school by asking, “Did you get any hits today?” He also used baseball as a way to help us figure out percentages by looking at the players’ batting averages. Why he never bought us a real bat, I don’t know. We practiced in the backyard with a tree branch and a tennis ball.
Yes, the 1962 season was an exciting time. Yes, we were devastated at how it ended.
We learned something– baseball can break your heart!– but we got through it together. At least we had a team we could be proud of. Still do.
2014 Update: The Giants win another World Series! That’s three in five years, as everyone knows by now. Yes, it’s a wonderful thing… And now, come along with me to those past glory days! Go Giants!!