Itching for baseball and the 12th inning home run that Carlton Fisk hit and I missed

Itching for baseball and the 12th inning home run that Carlton Fisk hit and I missed

As described, by the Korean media outlet, Dekhnews, “the Doosan Bears and LG Twins played their opening match of the tournament against each other. In their opening match Doosan Bears defeated LG Twins by a great margin of 8-2.” Note the use of “match” rather than game. Also note face masks worn by umpires and players and coaches in the dugout. 5/6/20 [Photo: David Kramer, 6:21 a.m. EST]

[NOTICE: This story is mostly about the 1975 baseball playoffs (below) when Carlton Fisk homered to win game six of the World Series. Be patient.]

For a couple of months, I’ve attempted to convince you and myself that we don’t miss sports.

In Who needs live sports when you have “This Date in Sports”, I claimed the This Date in Sports feature replacing box scores satisfies our appetite for live sports. In the No sports? Talker has you covered. (Parts I – IV) series, we make the persuasive case that archived Talker stories are ample substitutes for the “real” thing.

However, the itch for professional baseball has returned. I first felt the twing the other day at Cobb’s Hill where I watched a minor leaguer with the Corpus Christi Hooks, AA Texa League, throwing to a catcher. The young man,  from Olean who played for Buffalo State, is back home trying to stay in pitching shape while the season is suspended. (I’ve not yet been able to find his name as the Hooks’ business office is closed.)

Cobb’s Hill, Field # 2. In front background and to the right is the field’s unused safety net guard. The Cuban national baseball team cap is a gift from Dean Tucker. [Photo: David Kramer, 5/7/20]

The man was in good spirits, mentioning that his team still pays him, a little. At the same time, I felt sympathy for the pitcher. This year should be his fourth minor league season, often considered a make-or-break year. A lost or severely truncated season could sabotage his career. If we have minor league baseball at Frontier Field this summer, most likely fans will be socially distanced. I haven’t been to a game in a couple of years, but will certainly attend, six or more feet apart.

“Through the Knot Hole.” Very first pitch of the home opener. Frontier Field, 4/9/18 from Very first pitch on Opening Day. And Knot Holes

I am a baseball/softball umpire and worry there will be no season. So far, play is suspended indefinitely, and when deemed safe, I wonder how strongly player interest will emerge, especially if face masks are required.

This could be me. “Baseball players wore masks for protection during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 (Credit: Underwood and Underwood/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images) See “We Have Seen the Future, and It’s in South Korea”

Several days ago, “No Fans. No Food. No High-Fives. Play Ball!” The New York Times ran a front page story about Chinese Professional Baseball League (Taiwan) games played in empty stadiums as dummies and cardboard cutouts replaced fans.

5/5/20 “Dummies and cardboard cutouts replaced fans during a game between the Rakuten Monkeys and the CTBC Brothers at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium in Taiwan on Saturday.” From “No Fans. No Food. No High-Fives. Play Ball!”

The article also discussed that ESPN is broadcasting early morning (U.S. time) KBO League (South Korea) games. So, enjoying a baseball-inspired breakfast of crackerjacks, hot dogs and Genny beer, starting at about 6:45 a.m. , I watched the last three innings of the Doosan Bears 8-2 victory over the LG Twins.

Get yours soon at your local ball park. Just try drinking a virtual beer. “That’s how Genesee created a true American original in Cream Ale. This award-winning beer has been the style standard since it was first brewed in 1960 and remains just as smooth and flavorful as it’s always been.”(

A few days ago, NYTIMES columnist Tyler Kepner, “We Have Seen the Future, and It’s in South Korea” (5/7/20), also had a somewhat filling baseball breakfast, even without a Genny Cream. Kepner reminds us that in 2015 a game was played in Baltimore with no fans. But that game was an anomaly, necessitated by the unrest in Baltimore after Freddie Gray death while in police custody.

More to the point, Kepner says, “Playing in empty stadiums will almost certainly be the norm when — and if — M.L.B. returns this season, and the K.B.O. offers something of a preview, “adding as some consolation, “The absence of fans is not glaring on television, at least not to new K.B.O. viewers.”

NYTIMES, 5/7/20 (left) A screenshot from ESPN’s coverage of the K.B.O. game between the Doosan Bears and the LG Twins on Wednesday. Karl Ravech, top, and Eduardo Pérez called the game from home and spoke with the analyst Chelsea Wilson. (Credit ESPN); (center) Credit Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA, via Shutterstock); (right) Credit Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters) from “We Have Seen the Future, and It’s in South Korea”

Kepner is right. The game was watchable, reminding me of sparsely attended games at that old mausoleum, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, when the camera rarely panned the upper or lower decks, perpetuating the illusion that Indian fans abounded.

Unfortunately, Kepner is also right that cheerless stadiums will be, for now, our future.  I’ll probably watch some MLB games, half-halfheartedly. I’ll stick with radio and manufactured boos and cheers like back when radio broadcasters received telegrams from reporters in the grandstands. The announcers then recreated the game, including simulating crowd noise by repeating the word “rhubarb.”

The prognosis for live professional baseball is not goog. So, I’ve turned to another replacement: reliving old games and seasons.

Every true baseball fan knows exactly where they were for certain iconic moments, such as when Carlton Fisk waved, urged and willed the ball fair when homering off Rawly Eastwick in the 12th inning to win game six of the 1975 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds.

As for where was I, asleep. The games dragged well past midnight and — as a school night — my bedtime. My overwhelmed father did rush to awake me in time for post game interviews with Fisk and his fellow exultant Bosoxers.

As seen in 30 years ago when Billy Buck broke Rhode Island’s heart ,  I remember exactly where I was eleven years later for an another immortal sixth game of the World Series involving — in a reversal of fate — the Red Sox.

The 1986 playoff featured three of the most famous postseason games in baseball history: game 6 of the NLCS New York Mets vs. Houston Astros, game 5 of the ALSC Boston Red Sox vs. the California Angels and game 6 of the WS New York Met vs. Boston Red Sox.

I watched the NLCS on a small black and white tv on a Saturday afternoon in the package store where I worked on the East Side of Providence, accompanied by beer salesmen — falling behind their schedules — who drew around the tv as the game went 16 innings. I watched the NLCS on the same tv in the bedroom of the nearby apartment I rented in a 19th century home once owned by a wealthy whaling merchant. The landlady — dear, doty and aged Mrs. Schermerhorn — was like Hepzibah Pyncheon directly out of Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables.

(left) The small black and white tv where we watched the playoffs was placed on the counter where the limes are; (center) The bedroom in 38 Congdon Street where I watched game 5 ALCS and read Pinter’s Betrayal to Sarah; (right) After being a Thayer Street icon for decades, Spats closed about ten years ago from 30 years ago when Billy Buck broke Rhode Island’s heart

I watched game six of the World Series in Spat’s on the east Side of Providence:

When Mookie Wilson’s slow roller slipped past Billy Buck, just across the bar I watched a man break his beer bottle in despair. The shards cut his hand, drawing blood. The bartender silently cleaned off his wound with a towel. The man left, drifting off into the early morning fog on Thayer Street. His look mirrored what we all felt. The Sox would also lose game 7 and the World Series.

Just as the Red Sox did eleven years earlier.

One vicarious benefit of reliving old games is they remind of us our own sporting heroics. legends in our minds.  Right now, the decades long Sunday Game at the Corners played either at the Twelve Corners Middle School of the Brighton High School softball field is eagerly awaiting resuming play when deemed safe. All are invited at 9:30 Sunday mornings.

Until play resumes at the Game at the Corners, we only have memories. Like the Fisk or Carbo three run shot, I hit to win one game, although admittedly we playing on the “bandbox” high school field with short porches. Another game was memorable because I gave up a game winning home run — and celebrated. For that game, the batting team pitched to itself. In one game, I walloped a triple. The women who took the photo, Shadi, knows nothing about baseball. She cheered, “Homerun, Yah!” I let her remain in ignorance.

(left) Screen Grabs from YouTube MLB Classics: Game 6, 1975 World Series – Cincinnati at Boston; (right) From Farewell Boys and Girls of Summer! Under-40 MVP smashes 5 home runs off Over-40 MVP in Sunday finale

(left); (right) From Celebrating the Fourth of July at the Game at the Corners. 

The Game at the Corners (left) Brighton Town Council Member and 25th State Congressional District candidate Robin Wilt [Photo: Nicholas Wilt]; (right) Robin hurling a strike to Neil Rogachevsky with Michael Raff manning second base, 5/6/18 Photo: David Kramer from Brighton Town Council Member Robin Wilt pitches in at the Game at the Corners

After watching game six, I decided to relive the entire 1975 postseason. I retrieved an official 1976 baseball guide from under attic piles and hunted down countless baseball cards.  First, I had to partially break the spine of the guide using a box cutting razor knife and then carefully cut off the needed pages. Then was endless hours of toil scanning, photographing and merging images, uploading files and painstakingly recording the company, date and special notations on each card.

(top) Topps, 1975 World Series, Reds Champs! First Time, Since 1940, 1976, NL & AL Championships, Reds sweep Bucs in 3, Bosox surprise A
A’s, 1976

Official Baseball Guide for 1976, The Sporting News Publishing Company

Box Cutter Razor used to sacrifice the official baseball guide

Through this toil, I was taken back in time to when I sat with my father at the tv in rapt attention (except for the Fisk HR). The irony is that, in 1975, I actually didn’t care that much. Only now, I trick myself — like implanted memories — that I was on the edge of my seat for every pitch.

I didn’t care that much because my team, the Texas Rangers, were not in the playoffs.

(center) Texas Rangers pennant and Blue Jays Scorebook Magazine, Vol. No.14, 1977, (circling inner to outer, l-r) Topps 1972 Toby Harrah, Casey Cox, Bill Gogolewski, Ted Kubiak, Don Mincher, Dave Nelson, Tim Cullen, Roy Foster, Pete Broberg, Ken Suarez, Rich Hand [Note: in the 1971 season, the team played as the Washington Senators. As they were moving to Texas in 1972, the cards listed the team as the Rangers] 1973 Topps Larry Bittner, Joe Lovitto, Toby Harrah, Mike Paul, Ted Ford, Dave Nelson, Bill Fahey, Dick Billings, Bill Gogolewski, Dalton Jones, Vic Harris, Mike Thompson, 1974 Topps Ken Suarez, Bill Gogolewski, Dave Nelson, Tom Grieve, Dick Billings, Toby Harrah, Bill Fahey, Bill Sudakis, Alex Johnson, Jim Fregosi, Jim Spencer, Ken Suarez, Team Card, 1975 Topps Jim Merritt, David Clyde, Joe Lovitto, Mike Hargrove Topps All-Star Rookie, Bill Hands, Steve Hargan, Pete Broberg, Dave Nelson, Toby Harrah, Len Randle, 1976 Topps # 70 Father & Son Roy Smalley/Roy Smalley Jr Braves/Rangers, Bill Hands, Toby Harrah, 1977 Topps Toby Harrah A.L. All-Stars,

1974 was the first year I closely followed baseball. I had to choose a favorite team so I picked the Texas Rangers who had just hired Billy Martin.  In 1972 and 1973, the Rangers were a combined 111 – 205, truly woeful. But Martin inspired the team that included newcomer Ferguson Jenkins. The Rangers went from last to second, four games behind the world champion Oakland A’s.

Jeff Burroughs, 1974 American League MVP, was my favorite player. I even sent him a card to autograph; he did. Burroughs’ later claim to fame was in 1992 and 1993 when Burroughs coached his son’s Little League team, the Long Beach All-Stars with Sean as their star player, to back to back Little League World Series championships.

(l-r, t-b) Topps 1972, 1973 (autographed), 1975 All Star Outfield, Runs Batted in Leaders-1974, 1974. KMart 20th Anniversary 1962-1982, Tops MVP Series 1974 MVP American League

Denny McClain never played for the Rangers. On March 4, 1972, he was traded by Texas to the akland Athletics in exchange for Jim Panther and Don Stanhouse.

(l-r) 1970 Milton Bradley board game; 1972 Topps, 1982 KMart 20th Anniversary 1968 MVP National League

From the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Timeline in Highland Park. From Baseball at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park (1960 – 1972)

In 1977, my father and I saw three Ranger/Blue Jay games at old Exhibition Stadium.

(left) Scorebook from the Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays, Exhibition Stadium, 1977; (right) David Kramer [Photo: Eugene Kramer] from Street & Smith’s now defunct. Here is Kramer & Kramer’s Official 2016 Yearbook

I had high hopes going into 1975 as the A’s lost their star pitcher Catfish Hunter to the New York Yankees as a free agent. But the A’s still had too much talent, and overmatching us again. At the time, for me the highlight of the post season was the Red Sox getting swept by the A’s in three games, ending Oakland’s string of three straight world series championships.


Official Baseball Guide for 1976, The Sporting News Publishing Company

1975 Boston Red Sox (Topps 1976)

76 1

(l-r,t-b) Topps AL RBI leaders, 1968, World Series Yaz Smashes Two Homers, 1968, In Action, 1972, 1974, 1967 MVP’s, 1975, 1977, Turn Back The Clock, 10 Yrs. ago-1967, Zastrzemski Wins A.L. Triple Crown 1977, A.L. All Star, Of-1b, 1978, Inside Baseball, Chewing Gum, 1979,, 1979, Fleer 1982, Fleer 3000th Game, May 25, 1981, 1982, Turn Back The Clock, 1987

(l-r) Fleer Super Star Special, Eckersley, Yz, Clear, 1983 and Carl Yastrzemski, First Base-DH, 1983 [David Kramer’s collection]

(l-r, t-b) 1990 Pacific Trading Cards, Gulf Coast Suns (Senior League), 1976 Topps, 1990 PCT “He won 2 World Series games for the ’75 Bosox, 1976 Topps, 1975 World Series, Reds Champs! First Time, Since 1940, 1976, NL & AL Championships, Reds sweep Bucs in 3, Bosox surprise A

76 5

(reverse side) 1976 Topps, 1975 World Series, Bosox surprise A

1975 Cincinnati Reds (Topps 1976)

(center) 1970 Milton Bradley board game; (l-r, t-b) Topps 1982 Scratch Off, Topps 1971 Home Run Leaders, RBI Leaders, In action, 1972 In Action, 1973 1972 Runs Batted In Leaders, 1974 All Star Catcher, 1975, 1972 Most Valuable Players, 1977 1976 World Series, 1980, 1981 1980 Record Breaker Johnny Bench Most Home Runs, Catcher, Lifetime, 1977 N.L. All Stars, 1978 N.L. All Star C, 1981 KMart 20th Anniversary 1970 MVP National League, Fleer 1983, Fleer 1982, KMart 20th Anniversary 1970 MVP National League

(left) Score 1990 The MVP’s N.L. 1979; (right) 1982 Fleer Dynamic Duo

(l-r, t-b) Topps 1977, 1978, 1980, Fleer 1985, Fleer 1982, Donruss 1982, Fleer 1982

(reverse side) 1976 Topps, 1975 World Series 1976, NL Championships, Reds sweep Bucs in 3,

(l-r,t-b) 1973 Topps All Star Rookie, 1974, 1978 A.L. All Star C, 1977, MLB Xograph 3-D Super Stars, 1975 1974 All Star Catchers

(l-r, t-b)Topps 1974, 1979, 1978, 1977, Fleer 1982, Fleer Red Sox Reunion, Lynn and Evans, 1982, MLB Triple Action Sportflics, 1986, Topps, ’86 Record Breaker Dwight Evans Boston Red Sox Earliest Home Run, Season, 1987, Leas Donruss Diamond Kings, 1987, Topps 1987, Donruss 1988, Fleer 1989, Score, 1989, Tpps, 1989, Donruss, 1989, Topps 40 Years of Baseball, 1991, Donruss 1990

(l-r, t-b) Topps, 1979, 1978, Turn Back The Clock 1975, 1990. Scratch-Off, 1982

(l-r) 1976 Topps Batting Leaders, Runs Batted in LDRS, A.L. 1975, All-Star Rookie

My Burleson card is (temporarily) misplaced. 1976 Topps (

(l-r, t-b) Topps 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977. 1978, 1979, 1980,  Fleer 1982, Fleer Big Red Machine Driessen, Concepcion, Foster, 1982, Topps Scratch-Off, 1982, Ralston Purina 1st Annual Collectors Edition, 1984, Topps 1985, 1986, 1987, Donruss 1988, Topps 1988, Fleer 1989

(l-r, t-b) 1974 Topps ’74 Rookie Outfielders, 1975, 1977, 1979 Kellogg’s #-D Super Stars, Topps 1979, Fleer 1981, 1982, 1983 Topps In action, 1982 Topps Scratch Off, Topps 1989, 1989 Bowman “‘A baseball first’ was established April 3, 1989 when Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. became the first father-son combination in major league history to be active simultaneously.”

(l-r) 1989 Fleer (RC), 1991 Donruss, Topps 1990, 1978

ws 9

(l-r) Topps 1975, 1977, 1978

(l-r, t-b) Topps, 1977, 1975, 1974, 1977 Hostess Baseball Cards,  Topps 1979, 1976

(l-r) Topps 1974 Traded, 1975, 1976, 1977

(l-r, t-b) Topps 1973, 1974 All Star Second Baseball, MLB 3-D Super Stars, 1975,  Topps 1977, 2002 Topps Archives Reserve, 1978, 1980, 1982 KMart 20th Anniversary 1975 MVP National League, 1976 MVP National League

(center) 1970 Milton Bradley board game; (l-r, t-b) Topps 1972, 1973, 1975, 1975, 1977, 1986 Oldest Player to Hit Grand Slam

(l-r) Topps 1974, 1975, 1977

(l-r) 1990 Pacific Trading Cards, Winter Haven Super Sox (Senior League), Topps 1971 1970 Rookie Stars

(l-r) Topps 1974, 1975

(l-r. t-b) Topps 1971, 1973,1974, All Star Left Fielder, 1975, 1973 Most Valuable Players, 1976, 1977, 1982 Scratch Off, 1978 ’77 Record Breaker Most Hits, Switch Hitter, Lifetime

1986 MLB Triple Action Sportsflics

Reverse side of 1976 Topps, 1975 World Series, Reds Champs! First Time, Since 1940

Sparky Anderson, Manager (l-r, t-b) 1971,1972, 1970, 1973, 1974 (backdrop: The Marx-Engels Reader. Like Sparky, Engels was a cog in the Big Red Machine.

Topp’s 1959. Interestingly, not-yet-Sparky’s card only includes his minor league stats as he had yet to play in the majors. In 1959, Anderson played in 152 games for the Phillies, but never again appeared in the major leagues. [Ebay asking price $26.40: 1959 Topps Regular (Baseball) card#338 George Anderson of the Philadelphia Phillies Grade very good/excellent — a similar condition as mine.]

Dan Driessen (center) Topps 1973 (RC); (l-r,t-b) Topps 1977, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1990 Pacific Trading Cards, Fort Myers Sun Sox (Senior League), Fleer 1982, Topps 1980

George Foster (l-r, t-b) Topps 1972 1971 Rookie Stars Giants, 1973 Foster’s Run Decides It, 1972,  1975, 1976, 1977 Runs Batted in LDRS, 1978 Runs Batted in LDRS, 1980,Kellogg’s 3-D Super Stars, Topps 1980, 1982 Donruss, 1982 Topps Scratch Off, 1982 Fleer, 1981 Topps N.L. All Star, 1982 KMart 20th Anniversary 1977 MVP National League, 1990 Pacific Trading Cards, St. Lucie Legends (Senior League)

Jim Rice (l-r, t-b) Topps 1976 All-Star Rookie, 1977, 1978 Home Run Leaders, 1982 Scratch off, 1981 Donruss, 1982 Fleer, 1984 Ralston Purina Company 1st Annual Collector’s Edition, Topps 1985, Donruss 1985, Fleer 1986 Star Sticker, 1987 Limited Edition, Topps 1988, Fleer 1988, Fleer 1987, Topps 1987, Donruss 1988, Topps 1989, Topps 1987 Turn Back The Clock 1978, Topps 1988, Topps 1989, Donruss 1989, 1990 Triple Deck

(l-r) 1979 Topps Chewing Gum, 1986 MLB Triple Action Sportsflics, 2009 TRISTAR Obak #66 Jim Rice – PAWTUCKET RED SOX (MiLB PLAYER OF THE YEAR)



30 years ago when Billy Buck broke Rhode Island’s heart

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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