Flight to the Yankees

During the spring of 1966 when we lived in Dayton, I became enchanted with baseball. My father sometimes watched sports on our black-and-white TV, and one afternoon he had tuned in a baseball game. I started paying attention and became transfixed by the action – the game was slow enough and the rules simple enough for a child to follow, but still exciting whenever someone managed to hit the ball. The Yankees were playing that day, so by default they became my favorite team.

The day before my birthday that summer was a Sunday, and the whole family would normally have gone to the airport to fly. However, instead my father took just my older sister and me. We both groused about it and wanted to stay home and play with our friends or watch TV. After flying for about two hours, we landed and my father said we were in Cleveland. My sister and I both protested this apparent change of plans and asked why.

“You’ll see,” my father said, as he hailed a taxi.

Five minutes later, we stood in front of the baseball stadium in Cleveland, and my father said, “We’re going to a baseball game.”

“We are? Who’s playing?”

“The Indians and the Yankees.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A live baseball game, with the Yankees no less. It would be impossible to ever top such a birthday. Our seats were in the nosebleed section but it didn’t matter – I was at a real baseball game.

The Yankees won, and although such stars as Mickey Mantle were on the team, the hero of the day was Clete Boyer, a journeyman third-baseman who hit a home run to drive in the winning runs. I was disappointed that Boyer’s homerun didn’t receive the booming torches set off when Cleveland hit a home run. I still had a lot to learn about baseball.

I flew so much when I was a kid that this is one of the few flights I actually remember!

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