Today is the day that all of us in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio can greet with optimism — and hope. The Cleveland Indians start the MLB season this afternoon at home. And hey, the Tribe is still a contender. [Note: Not sure if it is still politically correct to use Tribe as a nickname, or for anything else. My bad.]
But for those of us who are Social Security-eligible, old habits fade slowly, if at all. I still like baseball — and opening day. I grew up in Pittsburgh in the late 1940s and 1950s, and believe it or not, at that time baseball was America’s national pastime. Football, especially pro football, was a game followed mostly by deviants and other miscreants. Pretty much like today, only with the added drawbacks of pre-game tailgating and near lethal cases of alcohol consumption. I digress.
So I still remember with great fondness taking a street car from my home on Pittsburgh’s North Side, transferring at a stop in the downtown, and ending up paying a buck to sit in the bleachers at Forbes Field, now defunct. If there was a better way to spend a day or night, I sure couldn’t figure it out. [And I wasn’t even old enough yet to quaff an Iron City or two.] Unless it was sitting on the front porch with family and friends listening to Bob Prince call the games on KDKA. What ever happened to radio?
Prince coined the following:
- “BY A GNAT’S EYELASH”
- A very small margin indeed, as in, “That ball just missed. It was foul by a gnat’s eyelash.”
- “CHICKEN ON THE HILL”
- A home run for Willie Stargell, begun by the fact that Stargell owned a chicken restaurant in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and that whenever he homered, the person at the counter would get free chicken. Thus, Prince would say, “We need a homer here. Come on, Willie, spread some Chicken on the Hill.” In one particular game, Prince said that if Stargell hit a home run, everybody in the restaurant would get free chicken. Stargell did hit the home run, everyone got free chicken, and Stargell sent the bill to Prince.
- “HOW SWEET IT IS”
- After suffering through some terrible Bucco teams in the early- 1950’s, Prince got to enjoy the taste of victory in 1960 and throughout the early-1970’s with the Battlin’ Bucs. The taste of a championship, a mid-season victory, or a home run that would put the Bucs ahead would draw out “How sweet it is”.
- Ah, how sweet it was!
- Anyway, baseball signaled the changing of the seasons, moving from the cold and snow of a Pittsburgh winter into the glorious early days of spring, followed by summer and fall. And every April produced a new beginning, with every team — and city — having hope and an equal chance. Wonder if the Pirates are still playing major league baseball? Mark, if you’re reading this, feel free to opine. For some reason I think the franchise went defunct in the ’70s.
I expect the Cleveland Indians will finish somewhere toward the bottom of their division.
And for today’s, game I predict the decision will go against the Indians 5-4.
Oh wait. My bad. That’s how the Supreme Court is going to play out on its decision about Obamacare.
Better the justices spent their time considering a repeal of MLB’s designated hitter rule.
Now that’s something the nation could come together on.