Tuesday, October 14, 2014

World Serious

This article on Fay Vincent jolted my memory of the 1989 World Series and baseball Before The Strike. It included video footage of the ABC broadcast with Al Michaels and Tim McCarver.

I watched the video with curiosity, wondering if the broadcast in my memory was how it really had happened. The human memory is a funny thing, faulty, warped with time and colored by the bias of our experiences, but I swore that what I remembered about this particular moment in history was right, so I hit play.

It was exactly as I had remembered it.

I was in seventh grade when it happened, that massive quake, the shifting tectonics, the collapse of bridges, the death, destruction, and postponement of the World Series. My mother was hosting a Home Interiors party in our Englewood apartment, so I was allowed to move a small television into my bedroom to watch the game, which added to my enthusiasm for the event. (Why she decided to host an HI party during a World Series game is something I can't answer. Haha.)

I loved that Oakland A's team. I can still recall the players as if they were on a current roster - The Bash Brothers, Rickey, Dave Henderson, Carney Lansford, Terry Steinback, Mike Gallego, Walt Weiss, Stan Javier, an aged Dave Parker, Dave Stewart, Bob Welsh (RIP), Eck...I had asked for and received an A's hat, one of the mesh variety, that I wore everywhere that summer. The highlight of the season was a trip to Cleveland with my grandparents where we and about five thousand other people watched the A's play the Indians in Memorial Stadium, which was anything but memorable. The A's lost, but they were already well on their way to the fall classic.

I don't remember if I was wearing my A's hat when I ran out of my bedroom and announced to the party that San Francisco had just had a major earthquake. I probably sounded like I was announcing the end of the world. The quake had quite an effect on me - for weeks I cut out every article about it that I found in the Dayton Daily News or whatever magazine happened to come my way and pasted it into a spiral notebook. I read about some of the people who had died and others who had gotten off the bridge just in time, the BABIP of life. I read about collapsed buildings and those that had burned to the ground and those that had staved off damage, including Candlestick. And I read every tidbit about the World Series, wondering, as did everyone, if it would be cancelled.

It wasn't, and San Francisco survived, but at the time, I didn't think it would. I was just becoming cognizant of the world at that age; the quake seemed like the worst thing that had ever happened because I had seen it happen. It was real. Other disasters I had read about were just passages in history books. That moment when Al Michaels realized what was going on was surreal, scary, even, and the effect was such that I have formed a perfect memory of the moment.

What are the chances that a quake like that would happen when both area teams were about to play in the World Series? Think about it. Quakes are rare as it is. There were 26 teams at the time; that those two were meeting for only the second time in franchise history makes it even weirder. And at that time, too, before they started the game rather than in the middle of it. I mean, what are the chances?

Turns out, experts say that the having the World Series in the Bay Area may have saved lives, that people had stayed home to watch the game and weren't out on the roads. The Series, when it resumed, had a healing power, too, as baseball is wont to do, as if baseball were a divine game. For a twelve year old kid in Southwest Ohio, the resumption showed that life goes on after disasters, that repairs are made, people healed, and this, too, shall pass.

No comments: