It’s Opening Day Mom

I think I land pretty much in the middle.
I think I land pretty much in the middle.

I am not a nut-job crazy sports fan. Despite the fact that I am often wearing a Pirates shirt, or some other bit of team gear; I’m really not a crazy fan. I played very little in the way of organized sports while growing up. Actually, I didn’t do much of anything that would be filed under the word ‘organized’ while growing up. I was a bit of a random agent. Imagine that. On the other hand, you can NOT grow up in Pittsburgh and NOT be a sports fan. Maybe it’s possible. Maybe there’s one guy, but he is made to regret that choice every time he steps into a bar.

You grew up in Pittsburgh? Wow, you must still be a Steelers fan.”

No, I never paid much attention to sports.”

Really…um, Okaaayyy then. How about those crazy Republicans?

In some ways, my attachment to Pittsburgh compensates, or rather offsets my somewhat below average interest in and knowledge of sports. I live in New England but I know very little about the local teams. When asked how I think so and so is going to do, I say that I’m not familiar because I follow the <insert Pittsburgh team here>. That usually works. Unless. On occasion, I meet the one-sport-wonder or the knows-everything-about-everything fan who knows more about my teams than I do. Then I have to fess up. I have to admit that “I follow my teams, but not that closely.

Anyway, if I can wander back to the point, yesterday was Opening Day for Major League Baseball. It was also Easter for some folks.

Easter – Opening Day.

God – baseball.

I’m not going there. The good news for me is that the Pirates play their first game today, Monday. That’s easy. Nothing else is happening today. Oh, it is my mother’s birthday. She is going to be 90, but it’s not like she lives next door. She lives halfway across the country. I sent her a card and a present. I talked to her, she liked the present. Besides, she knows where she ranks when it comes to stuff like this.

She drew the short straw against sports in our house all the time. If the movie she wanted to watch was on opposite a football game, she was going to miss that movie (only one TV, no VCR/DVR back then). If her favorite show was on opposite the Pirates, sorry, but the game is on. If the game wasn’t on television, she could watch her show but she would have to listen to Bob Prince, radio announcer for KDKA, blaring in the background from my father’s transistor radio.

The last time I remember the Opening Day vs. mom’s birthday conflict was in 1971. I was a junior in high school. I was going to the game with some friends. We were going to cut out of school and drive into Pittsburgh. My father knew about this plan. He was providing the tickets though one of those “I know a guy” connections of his. My mother had not been brought into the loop. Over the weekend, my mother asked if I remembered what day Tuesday was. “It’s Opening Day! Oh, yeah, and that other thing.” I don’t remember if she was comforted or not by the fact that it was a day game, so my dad could take her out to dinner – without the radio.

I still like Opening Day. Early April is a dark time in sports. College basketball is usually over for my teams. College and NFL football are a long way away. The NFL Draft is coming up, but that’s not a sport or even an event in my mind. The draft is merely an attempt by the NFL to make more TV money while pretending that the sport can be relevant in the offseason. Give it up wealthy owners, your time starts in September. Hockey is still going strong but I’ve lost interest. I like hockey a little, but I want it and the winter it is associated with to be over now. People weren’t supposed to be skating in April.

April is baseball’s time and it brings with it a bright outlook. It’s spring. There’s hope. Anyone can win it all at this point. We can buy gear. Wear gear. Watch, follow, listen and talk. As the song goes:

“…there’s new grass on the field…put me in coach.”

We don’t have an MLB team in Connecticut and going to see either the Red Sox or the Yankees involves a long drive and a lot of money. On the other hand, Hartford is about to get a Double-A team. In 2016, the New Britain Rock Cats will move up the road to the Capitol and rebrand themselves as the Hartford Yard Goats.


Not making that up.

Yard Goats.

The reference, in case you’re etymologically challenged, is to Hartford’s rich railroad history. A Yard Goat is the-little-engine-that-could that moved cars around in the freight yard. I’m not sure where that freight yard was, maybe it’s the one north of the city. I only know that Hartford’s Union station has precisely two tracks and I think one is closed.

It might be a dumb name, but I’m sure it will have a cool logo and I’m sure that I’ll buy a cap. It’s a team.

A home team.

Our team.

I’ll go to see a couple of games every season. I’ll meet my buddy John. We’ll walk over to the stadium, chow down a few dogs and a beer and watch some baseball. Hmm, about the logo, I guess it remains to be seen whether it’s a train or a goat.

Happy birthday, Mom – now, let’s play ball!

55 thoughts on “It’s Opening Day Mom

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  1. AA Baseball is good baseball . . the kids play hard because they know it can be their ticket to the big leagues and the bigger paycheck! We’ve seen most of the Red Sox young stars come through Portland, ME with the Sea Dogs during our summers in that great state. We can go to the game, have a few drinks, chow down on steamed hot dogs and still spend less than it costs us just to park when we go to a Red Sox game . . like we will do next Monday for our Opening Day at home. Yard Goats vs. Sea Dogs . . . it has a nice ring to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Birthday to your Mom! Yes, baseball and spring certainly go together. When we lived in Keene, NH, they had a hometown team called the Swamp Bats. I never could figure that out but it didn’t matter because it was the home team and everyone in the area loved them. I have to say that I use to go to a lot of KC Royals games back in the day of George Brett but haven’t dished out the $$$ to go see the Redsox in person although I do consider myself part of the nation. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I wish we were closer to Pittsburgh because, compared to Boston and New York, the Pirates are a bargain to watch. I’ve been to one Red Sox game and it’s hard to imagine going to another unless I just happen to be in Boston for a few days.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I never did get into baseball. I always enjoyed overcooked hot dogs with mustard. That’s my baseball memory. Now we have a new Fieldhouse, and I’ve never even been in the thing!
    But I liked your story about mom and the analogies otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. She’s been around for a bunch of seasons and she’s still going strong. Ballpark hot dogs, expensive beer and a bag of peanuts, they are all part of the memory.


  4. Good story Dan. Being a Steeler fan through marriage, I understand how it might be to not have a team to root to a championship. As a kid, I grew up in Detroit and was a Tigers fan. Al Kaline was my hero. Also liked the Red Wings. The Lions not so much

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. The Steelers have had their ups and downs. Most of the time when I lived in the city, they were on the losing end every season. They were pretty good while I was in college. At this point, the hometown connection is what matters. I tried to warm up to the Boston and NY teams, but I just couldn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love sports! My younger son is one of those knows-everything-about-every sports kind of guy, but he’s nice about it. Growing up in NJ, you were either Yankees or Mets. Either OR, never both. Love to chat, but I gotta watch Coach K take the championship tonight. Such a good post, Dan. Happy 90th birthday to your mom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry about the Badgers. I was pulling for Duke (not normal for me) but a coworker went there so I was supporting him. The Pirates lost their first game, but 161 remain. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry to see your Pirates drop their opener to the Reds, but hey, as your post points out: it’s OPENING DAY. So it’s a good day. Of course, it’s easy for me to say that, given that my Orioles did a number on the Tampa Bay Rays, but I honestly would be just as glad to have the game back if they’d lost. Fun post, Dan. Here’s to a great season!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would have liked for the Pirates to start on a win. Maybe they can pull that off for the home opener. In any case, 161 remain and I think they will be playing ball in October. At least I hope so. I’m glad your guys won Paul, and I’m glad we don’t play them very often.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Actually, I didn’t do much of anything that would be filed under the word ‘organized’ while growing up. (If you take off the last three words, you could summarize your life with this statement.) ;-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is true Deborah but I don’t like to brag about it. Actually, I do take an organized approach to some things (travel for instance) and I can be pretty annoying, so maybe it’s better that I avoid the temptation.


  8. Must tell you a little story, Dan. In the 1980’s I met a guy from Pittsburgh here in South Africa. He was visiting some people I knew well. Being a sports fan we got to talking about Baseball. He told me all about the game (we don’t play baseball here), and then he gave me a little plastic counter which the referee, umpire, not sure what you call him, uses to count off the balls or the strikes, also can’t remember what you call them any more. He told me it was used in one of the Steelers’ games. I hope it was. I’ve kept it all these years. And so right here in Durban South Africa, I have a link with the Pittsburgh Steelers. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a cool story Don, I’m feeling a connection. My father had a friend who was a major league umpire. He lived up the road from us and sometimes, when he would drive by while we were outside, he would toss a ball into our yard. One correction, that would be the Pirates (Steelers = football, our kind of football but both are Pittsburgh teams). It’s amazing how things travel.

      What sports do they play in South Africa?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aah! okay, the Pirates. So the Steelers are the football team. I’m sure they wear black helmets, or black shirts don’t they? I’m sure I’ve seen them on TV. Three key sports here in South Africa, Rugby, Soccer and Cricket. First two having the most following.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post ! Nothing more All-American than Mom’s birthday and baseball 😉 i really enjoyed your photos and your writing ‘flow’ in this one. I am a loyal Steelers fan (unless they meet up with the Broncos) ever since the Franco Harris days. (if I hadn’t already fallen in love with Joe Namath, my collage would have been all about Franco!!). Double AA ball is good – quality players with a little less of the blaring ‘entertainment’ at pro games. Go Goats!! (Yeah, that just doesn’t sound right …)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sammy! Mom had a good day (my brother took her to a casino). The Pirates lost, but there’s lots more baseball to come. It’s always good to know who’s pulling for the Steelers (and when they’re not). Since you’re a Franco fan, I’ll share one more picture from the sports museum in Pittsburgh –

      Maybe I’ll abbreviate the “Yard” part and make it Go Y-goats! (hmm, that’s not working either. Maybe after a few beers)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL LOVE the photo!! Lucky Faith 😉

        Perhaps that’s the problem – a few too many beers BEFORE they picked the moniker Yard Goats (and we all know if they don’t do well it will become ScapeGoats).

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it will work out fine Dan. I’m just happy at the prospect of having a ball team within the distance of an easy ride. Someday, maybe, I’ll be able to hop on a light rail car in my town and slide into the city nice and easy. Yeah, what is they’re dodging?


  10. As a teenager I went to the school games…mostly to look at the dishy players, and socialize with friends. I didn’t know the rules outside of “3 strikes you’re out!” Fast forward a number of years: all that changed when Big Baby Boy became old enough to play T-Ball. He played through T-Ball, Little League, Pony Ball, JV, and Varsity in High School. He was a Catcher.
    7.5 yrs after Big Baby Boy, Baby Girl came along and she too played Ball. Softball. She played Bobby Sox, American Girl, Travel A ball, High School, and College. She was Pitcher and 3rd base.

    I learned the rules…well okay, mostly. There are some deeply hidden rules that don’t come out often, but when they do you can bet the real fans know them! I even kept score for many years of their latter years of team baseball/softball.

    Now, both are all grown up and haven’t played organized ball in years. Just the odd pick up game now and then.

    We go to the San Jose Giant’s games. Those are a hoot. So much more fun that the “Pro” games. For me anyway. The kids run the bases and try to beat a player, there’s the “beer batter”, and raffles for pizza, and singing and cheering through out the games. Team spirit runs high at those games. I break out my old score book and try to keep up.

    I hope your Mom had a nice birthday. I’ll be rooting for the Home Team.
    He-Man, Big Baby Boy, and Baby Girl will be rooting for the Pirates along with you Dan. They’re HUGE fans of all Teams Pittsburgh. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Always good to know that there are more Pittsburgh fans out there. I have to say, I get a fair number of smiles and nice comments, even here in New England when I’m outside in a Pirates or Steelers shirt. Good job following the kids through fairly long careers (longer than most pros). Minor League games are fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy belated birthday to your mom, Dan. 90 is quite something worth celebrating. I won’t add to the conversation about sports because I’m not very much into it. Although I love the baseball outfit and the ambiance of the game. After all these years in the US I’m still mixing up the names of the baseball and football teams. That’s how bad I am. However I’m also in favor of San Francisco and Boston for personal ties with the two cities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Evelyne. I’ll forgive your supporting the Boston teams if you’ll forgive my lack of understanding of cheese :)

      90 is an achievement of note. I spoke to her and it was a good day.


  12. I always enjoy your wiring Dan.
    and laughing with the “yard goat” name, but here in richmond we have you beat – we have the flying squirrels – seriously – and some people still hate it- but yeah, they have some nice caps. ha!

    and it must be sad to not see more of your mom – who by the way sounds amazing and just cool to yield to sports and all that – my kind of momma!! anyhow, I know for me it is sometimes hard to not see my mom more – she is 12 hours away and I wish I could see her way more – but she insists on living ion FL and we tired that but it is not the right state for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s seems like “Rocky” should be your mascot :) I guess we’ll get used to the Yard Goats. I have some friends who really like the name. Mom is now living in Iowa, near my brother. It works for her. I see them a couple of times a year. Thanks for stopping by.


      1. rocky? why….(just curious)
        and actually with so much history here in richmond va, and so many areas wight he old money feel – well they could call the team the “geezers” just kidding….
        and I can see why the yard goats works for some (and you explained the ties to the shipping and all that -)
        and glad your mom is near your bro – my mom is near two siblings who get to see here weekly – so that works for them too :)

        Liked by 1 person

          1. oh no- I get it now :)
            but I lived in denver for 8 years and so I was thinking of the rockies = we were there opening season and for a while we saved some inauguration goodies – but finally got rid of the stuff (hats, bottles, bags, etc.) just cannot collect too much stuff – ya know

            Liked by 1 person

  13. I loved the post. I did play almost-baseball once when I was in the school, but we don’t have baseball grounds here. Plus, we played it like we play cricket, so that’s why I said almost-baseball. I still haven’t met any Indian here who loves watching or knows anything about baseball. Cricket is the national fever here. You pick a teen and he can tell you the statistics of some of the popular players not just Indian players, but international as well. By the way, one of the pictures you mentioned “fallen baseball hero Robert Clemente”…so why fallen?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sharukh. I had a friend who played Cricket here. There are a few leagues, but it’s not very popular. I’d love to know more about it (hint, for that other blog of yours).

      Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash while trying to deliver aid to Nicaragua after an earthquake. That was in January 1972, when I was a senior in high school.


  14. Sports and I–we went different ways. One went north. One went south. It’s very awkward around here because you are by nature expected to be a soccer fan. I’ve watched World Cup a couple of times. I just yawn and wish it was a movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve never been interested in Baseball as a sport, then again I don’t care much for most sports. That said I’d love to see a live baseball match in the US, it seems like the atmosphere would be a lot of fun! I find live sports quite good fun, but I just can’t get into watching it on TV. Maybe it’s because no one in my family is into sports that way, so I didn’t grow up watching it on TV.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Baseball is much better in person. The food, the sounds, the crowd all help make it more than a sporting event. I actually prefer to listen to baseball on the radio if I can’t be at the game. I think it’s easier or more interesting to imagine the game than it is to watch. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.


      1. Yes exactly, that’s always how I’ve thought of it, as almost a bit carnival like! It’s the same reason I don’t mind watching cricket in person: sitting out in the sunshine with friends and a gin and tonic on a warm british summer day (they are rare but they do happen) is a lovely way to spend an afternoon!

        Liked by 1 person

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