America's Favorite Pastime
Baseball. The game Americans have grown up loving. Each summer we watch with anticipation hoping our team comes out on top. Or we play till our bodies cannot give anymore. We spend hours practicing or teaching our children the basics of the game. Maybe someday my child will make it big. Or maybe you think you could be in the majors yourself someday. My reflections may be much like your own, but my dream is one larger than most can imagine!
At my eleventh birthday party my whole family was consumed with the Cubs game. You see they were playing the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs. Everyone was crammed into the family room watching the game on our little 19" television. I sat next to my Uncle Frank on the lime green carpeting. Occasionally someone would ask for a beer or a pop and I would get it since they were the guests. Baseball it was my birthday and it seemed that it was not important to anyone, but me. I wasn't very interested in the game , but I knew it was a huge game! Still it was my birthday, I wanted some of the attention. I remember watching Mark Grace at first base, what a hunk!
My next memory involving the great game of baseball comes a few years later. It was the summer of 1995. I was going to be starting my senior year in high- school in just over a month. It was a very hot day. I was playing in the all-star game at Garfield Park in my hometown of Lockport, IL. The whole town was there to watch and the camera crews were setting up all around the field. I was chosen to play center field that day. I didn't get any action that day. Then it was my turn to bat. I was so nervous. The cameras were focusing in on me and I was facing the most difficult pitcher from the league. I stood there with the bat on my shoulder, I couldn't swing. Then the count was 3-0. One more ball and I would be walked. Then the pitch, it was low. I got walked. As I strolled on down to first my teammates cheered me on. I looked to my third base coach for the sign, a hit and run. I took off with the pitch, I knew I had to beat out the double play. A grounder to shortstop, she threw the ball to second. I had to slide. I did and with that I broke up the double play. I had taken out the second baseman. Then I tried to get up to walk off the field, I couldn't move. There was a sharp pain in my right ankle. My coaches ran over. They carried me off the field. I was looked at by several coaches and my ankle just continued to swell. Finally they decided to call the ambulance. I soon found out that I had torn the ligaments in my right ankle. When I finally got home, I turned on the TV and what did I see? I saw a replay of the all star game. I got to relive my moment of pain for the next six weeks as they constantly replayed the game.
Just a few months later I recall laying on the floor of our living room listening to the Cubs game on a portable radio. For some reason which I cannot remember we must have lost power because we were all gathered around the radio listening to see if the Cubs could win the wild card. I had become a huge fan over the years. The Cubs would have to win the next two games and the Colorado Rockies lose their next two games to give the Cubs the wild card for the National League. I forced everyone to be quiet. I just had to hear the next call. As I listened with anticipation I could barely sit still. The Cubs just had to win! I was cheering the players on and yelling at them when they messed up. It was quite hot for a September day and a small breeze came through the font door to help cool us off. Then it was over, we lost. I couldn't believe it. I rolled around on the floor in disbelief. We had the lead and we still lost. I pounded my fists on the floor. I wanted to go to the playoffs so badly!
As time went on I became a bigger and bigger fan of the Cubs. My dream became to be a play by play announcer for the Cubs on WGN Radio. So, in 1996 my mom and I went to the Cubs Convention at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. All of the players and coaches would be there. I was so excited. One of the first people I met was Pat Hughes, the future radio play by play man for the Cubs. He was coming to us from Milwaukee. The first thing out of my mouth was "I want your job!" Then he said he would like a chance at it first, but maybe in a few years. I asked him what it was like being on the radio calling baseball games. He was so generous to give me his time and tell me about his job. After talking with Pat Hughes I became even more interested in becoming a radio play by play announcer.
My next encounter was with former radio and television broadcaster, Jack Brickhouse. My grandfather had worked with Mr. Brickhouse at WGN TV years before. I asked Mr. Brickhouse if he remembered my papa and he did. He asked about him and I had to sadly say he passed away a few years ago. Then Jack asked about my grandmother, Louise. I told him she was fine and would be glad to hear from him. Jack shared a few memories with me and I shared my dream with him. He wished m luck and we went our separate ways.
During my freshman year at North Central College in Naperville, IL I majored in radio broadcasting. At first I just did some news and traffic reports, then I had my own time slot. I was having lots of fun! Finally baseball season came around. I went to the sports director, Paul Johnson, and said I was interested in doing play by play for the Cardinals baseball team. At first he looked at me, a girl??? I told him my interest in baseball over the years and he said I deserved a chance. So, I got the chance to do my first game. I was so nervous sitting in the press box. My partner for the game was the sports director himself. I knew I had to make a good impression. So, I got out a piece of paper to use for notes and write down lineups. As the game got underway we alternated between color man and play by play. By the end of the game I was cool, calm and confident. Paul asked me if I would like the chance to do another game. I jumped at the chance. By the end of the season I had done five games and was asked to be on staff the following season. I was the first woman to do play by play for the North Central Cardinals. I was very proud of myself!
The last memory I will share is from just a few months ago when the Cubs won the opportunity to play a one game playoff for the National League Wild Card. It was September 20, 1998. It was supposed to be the first meeting for my jr. high youth group at church. I told the kids we were gonna have a party at my house to watch the game. I went and bought cracker jacks and pop for a snack. At around 2pm the kids arrived. The game had already begun. The situation was if the Cubs win and the Giants were to lose then the Cubs would win the Wild Card. During the seventh inning stretch we all sang the song as if we were at the game. The kids seemed to be having fun, I was definitely having fun! Then it came down to the ninth inning, the game was over they had lost. I was once again so disappointed would we ever make it to the playoffs again? Then it was announced just a minute later, the Giants had lost too. That meant a one game playoff for the Wild Card. I jumped for joy. I was bouncing all around the house screaming and cheering. My neighbors across the street heard me. Quickly I packed the kids up in the car and gave them a ride home. I wanted tickets for the playoff game! It was gonna be at Wrigley Field! I got to Dominicks and the line was out the door and halfway down the side of the building. No way I thought. Tickets were sold out before I even got there! What an amazing day. All of the adrenaline and excitement! Baseball truly is my favorite pastime!