Gosh, these games are on late.
The World Series began last weekend, and with its commencement, baseball fans can count on one thing: Games will all begin in prime network time – between 8 p.m. and 8:23 p.m. – and often end around midnight or after.
Gone are the days when kids tucked little radios inside their desks at school, hoping to catch a score or capture a great moment.
Gone, too, are the opportunities for understanding principals and teachers to pipe the game’s action over the school’s public address system, allowing the kids the chance to hear all the excitement.
My uncle Glenn Brown, a former football star for South Portland High School, likes to tell the story of kids missing 7th period classes and heading to the school’s cafeteria for beverages and a dose of World Series play being piped into the loudspeakers via the radio.
What is primarily wrong with all this late night baseball is the number of young people who are deprived of the chance to participate in America’s pastime.
Advertising dollars for major companies had a huge hand in dictating how this would all play out.
When I was growing up in the 1950s and the 1960s, baseball was predominantly a sport heard on the radio. Today, radio coverage takes a backseat to television coverage. Heck, in the old days, we were lucky if we were able to see one game a week on TV during the regular season.
And the World Series?
Most of the time we were glued to our radios because we were in school.
In fact, my first World Series memory occurred in 1960 when Pittsburgh Pirate Bill Mazeroski hit the Series winning home run in Game 7 in the bottom of the ninth vs. the New York Yankees. That game involved thousands of kids rushing home, radios in tow, to see the ball as it flew over the fence.
Now, that was baseball. And that was excitement for kids everywhere.
It was even a bigger thrill 10 years later to meet one of the Pirates slugger’s nieces, who brought a picture of the historic event and one of Maz’s bats to a history class at the University of Maine in Orono.
What a time we all had that day, fondling the Louisville Slugger hardwood, and imagining the classy slugger lofting one over the wall to defeat theYankees.
Personally, I’ve attended two Fall Classic games myself.
In 1975, I witnessed the Cincinnati Reds and the Red Sox at the old Riverfront Stadium in Ohio. And in 1977, I saw the aforementioned Bronx Bombers and the Los Angeles Dodgers have at it in Yankee Stadium in New York.
The spirit of this time of the year is best captured in the World Series. What’s lacking, however, are the number of kids who are missing all the action because of the late hour these games are played.
Let’s get the kids back into the game. It truly was a part of our American heritage and culture.
BDN columnist Ron Brown, a retired high school basketball coach, can be reached at email@example.com