Tuesday, of course, connotes a special day for love across the country.
Some people think Feb. 14 has become too commercialized, syrupy and over-hyped, but to me these eternal, show-of-love words will never grow stale:
Pitchers and catchers report
Years ago, when he played shortstop and center field for middle-earth Orange County, we called it Bobby Valentine’s Day.
Anyway, if you love baseball you most likely have YOUR team. Maybe you inherited it from your father, or stumbled upon it honestly. In my day, you most definitely had a baseball card collection of your team.
My love of the “California” Angels was largely born of accident, serendipity and geography.
In 1966, as I recall these 50-some years later, my bookworm older sister won Angels tickets in a local library raffle. Local is the operative word here. We grew up in La Habra, then a city of avocado trees that was a stone’s throw away from Richard Nixon’s Whittier.
La Habra was also located, conveniently, to a spanking new stadium opening in Anaheim.
This new stadium would house Gene Autry’s Angels, who had been renting Dodger Stadium while their next-door-to-Disneyland edifice was being constructed.
So, there you have it—it all came together. I got the raffle ticket my sister would never use in a million years—my guess is she has still never set foot in a sports arena, stadium, or pavilion.
I was 8 years old and, for years, my hazy memory was of Frank Howard, of the Washington Senators, hitting a home run half-way up the Big “A” scoreboard in left field.
Did it happen? Well, yes and yes.
My first game was likely May 11, 1966. The wonderful baseball website, retrosheet.org, years ago confirmed Howard’s dinger in the game log of that year’s daily box scores. Howard hit a home run that day off of Angels’ lefty George Brunet.
The only wobble in my story is that Howard also homered at Anaheim Stadium in 1966 on Sept. 2., off of Angels’ lefty Clyde Wright. It was definitely ONE of those dates.
Once you’re hitched to a team, though, you’re hitched.
One of the thrills of retiring from daily journalism last year was that I could openly root for the Angels without having to feign journalist impartiality.
Being IN daily journalism, though, also has its advantages. It put me into the Angels clubhouse on several occasions and last week led to being invited to moderate a golf-charity panel in Chino Hills for the contribution-worthy “Let It Be” Foundation.
The speakers were Angels manager Mike Scioscia, third-base coach Ron Roenicke and former hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. All three played for the Dodgers in 1980s and coached together for the Angels in the 2000s.
Scioscia, tanned and fit after a loooooooooong off-season, was as relaxed as he’s going to be for the next seven months. He was in such a jovial, joking mood that I decided to break it up by bringing up last year. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.