Wednesday, April 13, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Sports

Week 15 Challenge: Did you have a favorite sports team as a child? If so, which one and why? Do you still support the same teams?

This blog post was originally published on January 15, 2011.

Mickey Mantle at the plate
Municipal Stadium, Kansas City
August 19, 1962
my photo from the upper deck
No, Mickey Mantle was not one of my long lost relatives. But he played a big role in my early years. As I've written before, there are many baseball players in my family, including my father, my maternal grandfather, and two great uncles on both sides of the family. For whatever reason, the New York Yankees were my number one team. Today, I've expanded "my teams" to include the St. Louis Cardinals. So I've got a team in each league.

I remember listening to baseball games on the radio with my grandmother, Sina Bellinger Kelly. There was something about the name Mickey Mantle that resonated with me. At such an early age (under five), I really believe that I thought Mickey Mantle and Mickey Mouse were the same person! Anyway, I loved his name. Then I remember watching baseball games on our black and white television set.

Then came along the summer of 1961 and the home run race between the two Yankees, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. This season was expertly recreated in Billy Crystal's film 61*. I followed the home run race, read the box scores, and checked the statistics on a daily basis that summer. Being a huge Mickey Mantle fan, I wanted him to beat Babe Ruth's record. But as long as the record was broken by a Yankee, it didn't matter.

1962 rolled around and a dream came true for me. My grandparents, parents and I went to Kansas City's old Memorial Stadium to see the Yankees play the Kansas City Athletics on August 19, 1962. The Yankees were smokin' that day. Home runs were the norm. Mantle hit 3 for 4, including the seventh grand slam home run of his career. It was enough to see Mantle and Maris and the rest of the Yankees, but to see a grand slam! I was thrilled!

Between Mantle and Elston Howard, the two drove in 15 runs to beat the A's 21 - 7. Howard hit two home runs. It wasn't as if the A's were idle that day, either. Of 11 hits by the A's, four were home runs! No kid could ask for anything better than that!

Just as baseball is a big part of my lineage, it's still a big part of my life today (as a TV spectator anyway). Opening Day is April 1, 2011. It can't get here soon enough.

source: Beckley Post Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 20, 1962
Update for 52 Weeks: Oh yes, I still follow the Yankees! One of their relief pitchers, Joba Chamerlain, and I went to the same high school (oh, about 30-35 years apart). It's fun to keep an eye out for the home town boys who made it big. But I am also a huge fan of the St. Louis Cardinals (my Dad tried out for the team prior to enlisting in World War II). Pujols Rules! It's hard to believe, but I also like the Boston Red Sox (Yankees fans, do not attack me!), the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Chicago Cubs. Face it, if there's a major league baseball game on TV, it's on in the background.

About 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Amy Coffin of We Tree Genealogy has created a third year of blogging prompts for genealogy bloggers. The theme for 2011 i52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History. These are shared on the web site, hosted by Thomas MacEntee.

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