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Boys of Summer

blusk
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It's here--Spring Training has begun, and all is right with the world.  For so many reasons, baseball is the sport I enjoy the most, and I am glad that Southwest has relationships with most of the major league teams.  Every year about this time, baseball moves toward the front of my consciousnessOne of my favorite movies about baseball is The Natural because it represents redemption on a grand scale with Roy Hobbs overcoming his demons.  Randy Newman's score serves to make the finale one of the most stirring moments on film.  Another is Field of Dreams, and I admit that I usually am sobbing out loud every time I watch it.  I always wait for the part near the end when James Earl Jones, as writer Terence Mann, tells Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) not to sell his farm because people will come:  They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come. Like Ray (who was born the same year as I), baseball is a link to my childhood memories and my own late father.  My first baseball game was at the one-year old Dodger Stadium on July 3, 1963.  Sandy Koufax, my all-time favorite player, defeated Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals in a five-run shutout (that only lasted one hour and 53 minutes), and we also got to see one of Dad's baseball heroes, Stan Musial, pinch hit in the ninth inning.  Koufax struck out nine, walked none, and allowed only three hits.  All three of those players are in the Hall of Fame today, and over my life, I have seen other Hall of Famers play like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Al Kaline, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Ryne Sandberg, Brooks Robinson, and Carl Yastrzemski.  Plus, I played Little League against George Brett. However, the Dodgers remain the team of my childhood.  I can still recite the 1963 Dodgers starting lineup, and this was really the last Dodger team to have strong ties to the old Brooklyn Dodgers, (the Boys of Summer) with Brooklyn veterans like Johnny Roseboro, Johnny Padres, Don Zimmer, Junior Gilliam, third base coach Leo Durocher, and manager, Walt Alston.  (Both Alston and Durocher are in the Hall too.)  Even Koufax and Don Drysdale (another Hall of Fame member), who are more closely associated with Los Angeles, played in Brooklyn.  I devoured everything I could about Dodger history.  (How many of you know where the Dodgers played in Los Angeles from 1958 to 1961 before Dodger Stadium opened?)  If a genie suddenly appeared before me with three wishes (yeah, fat chance of that happening), my first wish would be to see the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers play in Ebbetts Field.  Oh to see Duke Snider patrolling center field, the courageous Jackie Robinson stealing home, Pee Wee Reese turning the double play at short, and the equally courageous Roy Campanella (who would later face much physical adverstiy) behind the plate catching. On a personal level, Dad was never really a baseball fan until we moved to Los Angeles, but he shared my passion for the Boys of Summer.  On our Sunday drives, the car radio was always tuned to Vin Scully broadcasting the Dodgers on KFI Radio, and my love of baseball has much to do with Vin's magnificient voice and wonderful stories.  (Scully had begun his broadcasting career with the Dodgers in Brooklyn.)  In 1965, Dad had a heart attack, and I remember visiting his hospital room and listening to Dodger spring training games, while he recovered.  Later that season, I was already in bed for school the next day, but he woke me up so we could listen to the last inning of Koufax's perfect game against the Cubs. (Click here to read a transcript of Vin's broadcast.)  Like Ray Kinsella, I'd give anything to have a game of catch with Dad again, but at least, as Terence Mann says, baseball "reminds us of all that was once good and that could be again." It's time for you to take your family to your own Field of Dreams. Southwest can fly you to Spring Training in Arizona or Florida, and we serve most of the major league cites.  Use the money you save on air fare to buy souvenirs for your kids (or you!) and buy a "beer and a dog" for me while you're at the game.
34 Comments
Phil_Willman
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Great Post Brian!! Just knowing that the Boys of Summer are at Spring Training makes the air seem warmer and the sun seem brighter somehow... And thanks for the link to that 9th inning transcript, that was great! Being a bit younger than some, I don't have as many memories of Vin Scully, though I am old enough to have heard a few of his broadcasts (mainly on TV, Game of the Week) - he was indeed a joy to listen to. My early MLB memories center around me and my best friend Kenny listening to Jack Buck and Mike Shannon call Cardinal games. No matter where we were, when the Cards were playing, we had a radio nearby. And of course, during our high school ball games, "That's a winner!" would occasionally escape our lips following a victory. And, being the age that I am, Saturday was incomplete without This Week in Baseball and Mel Allen. "How a-bout that" will live in my mind forever......... Thanks again Blog Boy Editor! (but how am I supposed to get any work done now? I am completely and totally distracted...)
slogan
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You played Little League against George Brett?!? Brian, you are my hero. I grew up in Olathe, Kansas and cheered the Royals on when they won the World Series against the Cardinals in 1985 (sorry, Mary Hennes!). Great post! I agree with Phil...I can taste summer already!
Jim13
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Ah, I love that speech from Field Of Dreams - always gives me goosebumps. There is nothing better than an afternoon at the Ballpark in Arlington, watching the Rangers play. (yeah, technically it is Ameriquest Field, but . . .) And I remember Arlington Stadium too. Twice I watched Nolan Ryan start one game before his next start was a no-hitter. But one of those games I did get to watch him set a record - the most home runs he ever gave up in a single game - I don't remember the number, and Google isn't helping at the moment. Now you've got me wanting to go to a game.
Phil_Willman
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Oh, now that stings a little! Shelley, did you have to bring up 1985?? All of a sudden I recalled Denkingergate from '87 and the...ahem...sweep in '04. Painful Cardinal memories... But overshadowed by last year's Series victory for sure! Here's to back-to-back titles for STL!! Only 31 days til opening day!
slogan
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...speaking of baseball, I'd also like to take this opportunity to tell all SWA Employees where the BWI Spirit Party will be...(drum roll, please...) CAMDEN YARDS! Check SWALife for the date and times...it'll be a guaranteed good time. See you there! (and Phil, I promise not to mention 1985 ever again...!)
pcerda
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Brian, WHAT A POST!!!! Man, you took me back to my childhood! I was a resident of York, PA for about my whole childhood. I love my Phillies. Ashburn and Kalas were legendary announcers and 2 hall of famers. I remember Michael Jack Schmidt and his 500th homerun. I got to see the Vet when it was still up (would LOVE to see Citizens though). I only got to go to one game in Philly though. We lived about 30 minutes from Baltimore (BOO ORIOLES!) and I saw a couple games there. I actually saw the first night game in Camden Yards and the first homerun (I think it was Mark Lewis of Cleveland). And of course, I went with my best friend to an O's game and the drunk guy behind us spilled his whole beer down my friends back (we were about 16 at the time). Fun times. I get to see the D-Backs. I do like them (except when the Fightin' Phillies come to town!) and cheered for them against the Yanks. GO PHILS!!! This seems to be our year in the NL east. Finishing a total of THREE games out in the wild card the past 2 years doesn't sit well with us boobirds, but with the reigning NL MVP Ryan Howard, J-Ro, and Chase Utley it looks like we're in for a great year. Brian, you and Jeramy are going to be 2 peas in a pod this season. He's such a L.A. homer it's not even funny.
Jeramy_Brian1
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I love the dodgers. My first baseball game that I ever went to was at dodger stadium with my dad. The best dodger moment of all time had to be in 1988 when Kirk Gibson limped up to the plate and smashed the game winning home run out into the LA night. That place went crazy. It was one of the most memorable and inspiring moments in sports history. Kirk Gibson will always be a hero in LA. Another great dodger moment was last year when the dodgers were losing to the padres at home. They were down by 4 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning and the fans were starting to file out of the stadium. Then, the unthinkable happened. They hit 4 home runs in a row to tie the game and nomar hit a home run in the bottom of the 10th to win it. There is something magical about dodger stadium that no other baseball stadium has. You have to go there to know what I'm talking about. Go Dodgers!
Pete_Scaltrito
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Hi Brian! The Dodgers were also the team of my childhood. Growing up in Brooklyn, my older brother attended Brooklyn Preparatory High School, which was just a stone's throw from the ball park, and we would often meet after classes to watch the Boys play at Ebbett's Field. Also, an older cousin worked for Gil Hodges, who owned a state of the art (at that time) bowling alley on Ralph Avenue, the dividing line between Flatbush & Canarsie. We would often "hang out" at the lanes, since it was within walking distance of our house, and we could chat with Gil, one of our hometown heroes. Our whole family was devestated when we lost our Home Team. My thanks to my Dad, who is also gone now, for turning me on to the greatest team ever. Ahh, the fond, vivid memories of days gone by.... Thanks!
Francisco_Delga1
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I HATE BASEBALL................... USS BLOG BOY
blusk
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Phil, Thanks for the great words. Are you too young to remember Harry Carray doing Cardnial games before he moved to the Cubs? Pete, Color me envious. What a great time to grow up in New York City with the three greatest teams in baseball. Of course, the Brooklyn Dodgers were the best when compared to the Yankees and Giants. Even though I wasn't born until a year later, I still cringe every time I read about Bobby Thompson's 1951 home run. Like I said in my post, I would have given anything to have watched a game at Ebbetts Field. Jim, I not only rememmber Arlington Stadium, I remember when it was called Turnpike Stadium, and I watched the old Dallas/Ft. Worth Spurs play there. I was in College the year the Senators became the Rangers, and I had a press pass that season. I went to one or two games a week, and that's when I saw Yaztrzemski, Kaline, and Robinson play. One of the two hardest hit home runs I ever saw in person was at Arlington Stadium. It was during the 1973 season, and Reggie Jackson hit a line drive at least halfway up in the center field area. The other was hit by Mickey Mantle against the Los Angeles Angels when the Angels played in Dodger Stadium. It was a line drive that maybe got 15 feet off the ground and it landed about two rows in front of us in the right field bleachers. Paco, thanks for the kind words. I remember watching the Phils on television when they played in Shibe Park. I think it is amazing how baseball affects our childhoods. The wonderful thing is that it is played every day, and it allows us to build a relationship with a team. Jeramy, the Gibson home run was amazing, but I'm not sure it is the best Dodger moment of all time. Winning their first World Series in 1955, Beating the Yankees in four straight in 1963, and Koufax's 1965 perfect game (and his fourth no-hitter in four consecutive seasons) would certainly contend for that title. And don't forget, Jackie Robinson's first game, which was the first time an African-American had played major league baseball. Blog Boy
blusk
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Okay, why hasn't anyone tried to answer my question about where the Dodger's played from 1958 until 1962 when Dodger Stadium opened. Also, see my comment above about the LA Angels in Dodger Stadium. The Angels played their home games in Dodger Stadium (they called it Chavez Ravine) when it opened in 1962. However, the Angels began play in 1961. Where did they play that first season? Blog (Baseball) Boy
Ed_M1
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Brian, The Dodgers played in the L.A. Coliseum and the Angels played their first year in old Wrigley Field in Los Angeles.
blusk
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Ed is right. Since it was only 250 feet down the left-field foul pole in the Coliseum, the Dodgers had to erect a huge chain link fence that was called the "Chinese Wall." Originaly the Dodgers had planned to play in LA's Wrigley Field until a new stadium could be built, but it was too small. When the Angels came into the American League, Walter O'Malley refused to let them use the Coliseum for the one year, and they were forced to use Wrigley. So for the 1961 season, there were two Wrigley Fields in major league baseball, one in Chicago and one in LA. Theoretically, we could have seen a world series between the Cubs and Angels that would have been played in Wrigely, but 2,000 miles apart. Here's a link to the Coliseum baseball site(http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/past/LAColiseum.htm), and one to Los Angeles Wrigley Field (http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/past/LAWrigleyField.htm). Because of it's proximity to Hollywood, Wrigley is use in many baseball movies from the 1940s and 1950s, like Damn Yankees.
Brian_Arnold
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Wow! Your post sure brings back memories. I've always said the four greatest words in the english language are "Pitchers and catchers report". I remember going to bed with a transistor radio listening to Jack Buck call Cardinals games. My first game was Royals vs. Tigers in the old Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. Southwest Airlines has given me the freedom to see games in Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Anaheim Stadium and Kaufman Stadium. Now if I can just get to Wrigley, my life will be complete!
Jeramy_Brian1
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I feel sorry for all of the brooklyn dodger fans who lost their favorite team when they moved to LA. I wish they would send the angels to brooklyn. Nobody in LA likes them. They are the team that people only go to watch because the dodger games are sold out. The same thing goes for the clippers. Nobody in LA is actually a clipper fan. The people who go to their games couldn't get season tickets to the lakers...
Francisco_Delga1
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Even though i dislike baseball------------------------ GO PADRES!!!!!!!!!!!
Phil_Willman
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Brian, Alas, yes, I am too young to have heard Harry calling Cards games. But I did hear a good story via my friend's dad. Harry Caray and Jack Buck were calling Cardinal games back in the day, and they did some live radio commercials between innings. According to him, one of the products they pitched one night was Budweiser (imagine that, at Busch Stadium). And as part of the commercial, they had to take a big swig, resulting in some type of "aahhhh, refreshing" phrase or some such thing. Anyway, he said that by the 6th inning or so, they were pretty well tanked, and had a hard time calling the game. He said it was a riot to listen to! (of course, didn't Harry always sound like he had just downed a couple?) Now, I don't know if that story is just urban legend, or if my friend's dad made it up to impress us kids, but I could sure see it happening!
pcerda
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Phil - sounds like Bob Uecker in Major League! Favorite Bob Uecker quote - "How do you catch a knuckleball? Wait until it stops rolling to the backstop and pick it up!" Francisco - how can you NOT like Baseball? But at LEAST you do support the Padres....they support the Armed Forces like no other team I've seen.
joe-mdw-plane-d
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No tigers fans? Maybe they will finish what they started last year! My father was on a gearing class destroyer DD840. Ding! boy Joe Friedmann
Phil_Willman
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I had forgotten about Eucker! And I also love that knuckleball quote. Has anyone had the privilege of getting to see a knuckleballer pitch - Hough, Wakefield, etc? Not that I've been to many major league games, but haven't yet seen a knuckleballer hurl. I did see Tom Glavine make the D-Backs look like a single-A team one time though. Of course, he made most teams look that way...too cool. And Francisco, I just have to get your opinion on the ABQ Isotopes. I think the stadium is nice, but the name.....sheesh! (obviously I am not a Simpsons fan)
blusk
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Phil, I saw Hoyt Wilhelm pitch once. The catcher needed a gigantic mitt, and Hoyt was either really good or terrible. I don't think the Harry Caray story is urban legend because it was always an adventure to hear him do the last couple of innings of Cub games. Blog Boy
Jeramy_Brian1
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Phil, don't insult minor league baseball players. The d-backs probably couldn't beat a high school baseball team. Paco and Francisco, that's great that the padres support the military. It's a shame that they are such a mediocre team though. Our troops deserve better. The REAL team that supports our troops the most is the dodgers. What other team wears red white and blue on their uniforms?
Jenny4
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Brian...got me wishin' for spring - we wound up with six more inches of snow and baseball opening day for our minor league team is April 9th! As much as I love a few "big league" games in Detroit, nothing beats the fun and energy of a minor league team. Our own West Michigan Whitecaps had a fantastic year and as a Class A team for the Detroit Tigers, they had a hot season last year, winning the Midwest League Championship....wonder if they will have what it takes this year. If you have the opportunity - give minor league baseball a try... I can smell the grass and hotdogs, hear the crack of the bat and "get yer peanuts here" and feel the summer breeze.... I AM SO READY FOR SPRING!!!! (and baseball.....) Enjoyed the post. Thanks for the fun. Jenny
pcerda
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Jeramy, put down that Los Angeles Kool Aid bro! Does LA even have red in their uniforms anymore? And as far as the Dbacks go, they have an outstanding group of youngsters, such as Stephen Drew (Who is the real deal, unless he's as fragile as JD) and Conor Jackson.
Jeramy_Brian1
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Paco, Yes they do. The numbers on the dodger uniform are red...
pcerda
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Jeramy, Phillies have red, white, and blue in their uniforms so as far as I'M concerned, that team supports the troops!
Jeramy_Brian1
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USC hoops is dominating the pac-10 tournament! Arizona and UCLA were already knocked out. So if the trojans beat the ducks today and win the tourny, does that mean they should be seeded higher than the bruins in the big dance? I say yes!!!
pcerda
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Jeramy, Dude, this is a BASEBALL thread! (How about those Lakers, though?)
Scott5
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UCLA is still in and on to San Jose. With Southwest's recent 3/11 schedule changes it should be a lot easier for Ranger fans to go to their division rivals (Angels, A's and Mariners) on Southwest. Last baseball season you still had to use two reservations, two or more planes or ...
Scott5
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Consensus NL West right now: 1. Dodgers 2. Padres 3. D-Backs 4. Giants 5. Rockies
Scott5
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For those that need to come to Dodger Stadium, help Southwest fight LAX's rent increases by flying into Bob Hope Airport (BUR) which is actully closer to Dodger Stadium than LAX is.
RaymonWazerri
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Hey, I love what you'e doing! Don't ever change and best of luck. Raymon W.
Scott5
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Wow how things have changed, The Cubs have a clinched at least a tie of first and if the Padres hang on, The Cubs are in.
Scott5
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That game should end at about the same time as Flight 501 lands at the Midway Airport tonight.