Summer means baseball. National League, never American League. Atlanta Braves all the way, baby. I love baseball because Pop loved baseball, and I love the Braves thanks to Pop and Ted Turner.
Pop was a farm kid who grew up listening to Cardinal baseball. He and his dad were close enough in age that they played on the same local team in Keytesville. At one of the games a Cardinals' scout saw Pop play and was impressed. He found Pop's aunt in the stands and gave her his information. He told her he wanted Pop to try out for the Cardinals. She never told Pop. Not until years later. She didn't think that baseball was an appropriate vocation for a young man. A fine past time, but never a career. When I asked him about it, he claimed it didn't make him angry or upset. Maybe that was true by the time we were talking about it, I had to take him at his word. Still, it seems a shame that he was denied the opportunity to do something he loved due to someone else's idea of what was appropriate.
In the summer I would stay with Nanny and Pop and he would listen to Cardinal baseball. Later when they moved to town and got cable, he watched them on TV. On afternoons when Nanny was out, and therefore baseball wouldn't interfere with her "stories", Pop would flip around the channels until he found a game. The Cardinals and the Royals were his favorites and finally the Braves too. I would lay on the rough, cabbage rose floral upholstered couch with my nose in a book and listen.
Ted Turner is a genius for many reasons, but the one that sticks out in my mind is putting the Braves on TBS. Ted owned an awesome, popular Superstation and a less awesome, not-so-popular baseball team. He put them together like chocolate and peanut butter and made something great. With 162 games to be televised, you either had to give into Stockholm Syndrome or become a football fan. Baseball Stockholm Syndrome isn't as bad as it sounds.
Pop would turn on the game and I would lay on the couch with Louisa May Alcott or a Harlequin romance. If reading times were really tough, there was the Rural Missourian magazine or the Moberly Monitor-Index available. We would split a Coke and listen to Skip Carey give the play-by-play. I freely admit I still get bored during pitcher's duels.
Oh man, the Braves were rotten. And those robin's egg blue uniforms?! Ugh. When Skip Carey would announce the attendance (usually a little over 5,000 people) the camera wouldn't pan the stadium like at Cardinals' games, but stayed in tight behind home plate where the people were clustered together. None of that mattered when the Braves won. It just made the wins that much sweeter.
I've seen the Braves play at Fulton County Stadium and twice at Busch. Once on my birthday! And someday I'll see them at Turner Field. My hope is to go to Cooperstown when Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz get inducted. However, since I doubt they'll all go in the same year I'll have to pick just one. Here's looking at you Tommy Glavine.