“The Way It Was: September 2012” from Bob Stockton

My former Navy shipmate and long-time friend, Bob Stockton, sent me an email describing his feelings regarding the state of Major League Baseball in our country today and how things have changed over the years. It reads so well, that I thought I should share it with you.

First, a little background about Bob: He and I both served in the United States Navy during the late 1950’s through the late 1970’s. We were both Chief Petty Officers and served aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) at the ends of our careers. Bob is an excellent writer and has published about a dozen books. I’ve read and enjoyed them all. You can check out his website at Bobsbooksite.com.

Growing up outside of Philadelphia, Bob is a lifetime Phillies fan. Growing up outside of Boston, I am a lifetime Red Sox fan. We have had frequent bets (who buys lunch) on the outcome of Phillies-Red Sox games over the years since Major League Baseball has added inter-league play. I was surprised to read that he has migrated from the Phillies to the Baltimore Orioles. Of course, the Orioles and the Red Sox are not only in the same league, but the same division so they play each other frequently. I completely agree with Bob’s statement that Gary Thorne, a New Englander by birth, is the best in the business!

Here is Bob’s email:

Birdland

Rather than watch the Phillies awkwardly stumble toward the finish line I have begun to watch the Baltimore Orioles who are making their first serious postseason bid since 1997. The Orioles play by play television announcer, Gary Thorne is in my view the best announcer in the game today. He is knowledgeable, erudite and has a wicked sense of humor. Thorne keeps the viewer in the game at all times and is also paired from time to time with Jim Palmer, the Hall of Fame Orioles pitcher who brings a vast knowledge of the game to the booth and complements Thorne’s narrative nicely.

The two men obviously have a mutual respect for one another and seem to genuinely like one another as well. Palmer now states that his wife “is again interested in baseball,” which cracks Thorne up. Palmer continues with an imitation of the telephone calls from his wife; “What’s the score? Who’s at bat”, and so on.

Thorne meanwhile can hardly maintain his composure, laughing at Palmer’s faux imitation of his wife’s constant calls. Is he the patient husband of a baseball wife who pretends interest when the team is winning but affects complete disregard for the rather strange and mysterious career that her famous husband has chosen when the Orioles are less than stellar? Whatever the answer to the between inning exchange – or is it a monologue? – during the late stages of a laugher with the Red Sox it is funny, the kind of humor that is usually on display when the two get together for the MASN broadcast. Palmer, who was well known for his verbal jousts with legendary Baltimore manager Earl Weaver will often times relate one of those delightful baseball anecdotes that are all too infrequent in today’s Bud Selig manipulated game (I suppose that millionaire players and their entourage of agents with briefcases are too self important to see any humor in the game).

The reflections that Palmer shares are priceless! Weaver, the minor league catcher with the brilliant baseball mind was notorious for his umpire baiting and the fans and most players loved it. With his cap turned around catcher style and going nose to nose with the umpire du jour, he’d kick dirt on the ump’s shoes and remark none too demurely on the umpire’s heritage, usually after being ejected from the game. His tenure in Baltimore lasted through three decades and the fans loved just about all of it.

Jim Palmer was not a great fan of Weaver’s antics but you get the feeling that underneath his disdain he respected the man for his commitment to the game. Palmer may in his advancing, no more underwear ads please years, look back on some of Weaver’s quotes with fondness. During a recent broadcast Palmer referred to Weaver’s teams in Baltimore City as “The First Amendment Orioles,” the implication being that players could say whatever they felt and Weaver would retaliate with a devastating quip that would give the player cause – exception Palmer – to think before he uttered any more disparaging remarks about his manager.

Palmer gives us a great case in point: When Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar who was one of the “Fab Four” Orioles pitchers who won twenty games in the same season – complained loudly to the press about being pulled for a relief pitcher early in a game one season, Weaver’s only response to the press when being questioned about the move simply replied that he had given Cuellar “more chances than his first wife.”

I miss those days. How about you?

I highly recommend that you check out Bob’s books such as “The Blue Collar Blues and Other Stories” and others on Bob’s website to learn about his other writings.

Thanks for taking a look! I truly appreciate your interest.  Please Post Your Thoughts, Comments, Corrections, and Remarks in the “Leave a Reply” Section below… >>>>>

The First Super Bowl

Packers’ Defensive End, Willie Davis about to sack Chiefs’ Quarterback, Lenny Dawson in Super Bowl I

The First Super Bowl

I’ve been a football fan my whole life. I’ll watch any game from Pop Warner to NFL. Growing up in Quincy, Massachusetts, many Thanksgiving mornings, I walked the two miles to Quincy’s Veterans Memorial Stadium to watch the rivalry game between Quincy and North Quincy High School. (Please take a look at my 2009 post about the Quincy vs. North Quincy rivalry games.)

In the days before the American Football League and the Boston Patriots were formed, we saw NFL games on Boston Television. Because New York was the closest NFL city, we saw a lot of the New York Giants on Boston television. Many Saturdays each fall, we could catch a college game on TV also. I managed to get to Boston to see a Boston University or Harvard game or two as well.

After I had been in the Navy for a few years, they stationed me in San Diego, California for three years. By then, the American Football League had been formed, and the Chargers were in San Diego. While we there, Helen and I went to quite a few Charger games and several San Diego State College Aztec games as well.

We were extremely excited to learn in 1966 that the two professional football leagues that had been competing for fans, players, television revenue, and pretty much everywhere except on the field, would finally play a game against each other on January 15, 1967, when the championship teams of the NFL and AFL would compete for the World Championship. The game to be played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was to be called the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.” Later, the game became known as “Super Bowl I.”

On that first “Super Bowl Sunday,” we settled in front of our 19” black and white television and watched the game on CBS in our National City, California, home.

The game was televised on both league’s affiliated networks: CBS televised the NFL games, and NBC the AFL games.  According to Brian Flood of Fox News: 

CBS’s version was called by Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker, and Frank Gifford, while Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman were in the booth for NBC. The game attracted a whopping 50 million total viewers between the two telecasts. The total population of the U.S. in 1967 was about 200 million — so approximately a quarter of the country watched, an early testament to the sport’s popularity.

Sports commentators Paul Christman, for NBC, and Frank Gifford, for CBS, on Jan. 15, 1967. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Never being a fan of Curt Gowdy, after listening to him broadcast Boston Red Sox games on Boston radio in the 1950s we watched the CBS version. Now that we were San Diego Charger fans, we rooted for the AFL Kansas City Chiefs in the game. As predicted the Green Bay Packers won, but the Chiefs held their own in the game.

The following year, the second “AFL-NFL World Championship Game” had a very similar outcome when the NFL’s Packers defeated the AFL’s Oakland Raiders.

My all-time favorite Super Bowl game occurred a year later in Super Bowl III (the third “AFL–NFL Championship Game.”) That was the game that sealed the deal for the NFL – AFL merger. Joe Namath, the AFL champion New York Jets’ quarterback, guaranteed a victory over the 18-point favorite NFL champion Baltimore Colts. Namath’s prediction came true; the Jets won 16-7. We were elated!

Brian Flood of Fox News has an interesting story detailing why we never get to watch the videotape of the first Super Bowl at Fox News “The first Super Bowl was broadcast on two networks, but you’re not allowed to watch it today.”  I suggest that you check it out!

I truly appreciate your interest! 
Please Post Your Thoughts, Comments, Corrections, and Remarks in the “Comments” Section below… >>>>>