Thursday, March 27, 2008

33 years of... me! Part 2: The 1980s!

Moving right along, on Jan. 1, 1980, I was 4 years old, going on 5.

The 1980s:

August: I started elementary school. I skipped from kindergarten to first grade early in the year, and responded by promptly throwing up in the back seat of my mother's car on my second day of first grade. I also met two guys, Turbo and Dave, who would be my best friends all through school. Heck, Dave's my best friend to this day.

Jan. 25: The Oakland Raiders won Super Bowl XV, starting my lifelong love of all things Silver & Black. This was the first football game I'd ever seen on TV...
December: My Grandpa Sam died, which was really my first experience with death. He lived with us up until near the end, and I'll always think of him sitting out on our front porch in his chair.

October: This is the first year I remember getting to stay up late and watch the World Series on TV. I believe I was rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers, but the St. Louis Cardinals won. I think I was mostly excited that I got to watch pretty late. Mind you, I was already a New York Yankees fan, like my father before me. My favorite player? Graig Nettles, who succeeded the other "Mick," Mickey Rivers.

• This was the year I got my first baseball card set, the 1983 Topps set, which started a hobby I kept up all the way through high school. I remember sorting the set by team and then trading players, based primarily, I suspect, on how cool they looked in their pictures.

Summer: I also attended my first New York Yankees game. Shane Rawley pitched, and got shelled in an 8-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. We had great seats down the right field line, thanks to my Uncle Leo, and I remember at one point, right fielder Oscar Gamble didn't try to catch a homer (Barry Bonnell?) that barely cleared the wall, and a fan near me yelled "Life is a gamble, Oscar!"

Jan. 22: In a game most people probably remember for a commercial, my Raiders won Super Bowl XVIII, making me a hero at school because, a year after predicting the Washington Redskins' upset of the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII, I predicted the Raiders' upset of the defending champs.
October: On the other hand, I got beaten up in school for wearing a San Diego Padres jersey after the Padres lost the World Series. Hey, it was a gift.

School year 1984-85: This was the year I got chicken pox. I liked missing 10 days of school (still a personal best), but I couldn't resist scab-picking. My complexion regrets that to this day. I also took the first real beating of my life, getting pounded by a kid about three years older and twice my size. Later, he put his arm through a window and needed about a zillion stitches. Then he moved away. I shed no tears at either event.
October: Another baseball memory, this one poor umpire Don Denkinger blew a call at first base that helped the Kansas City Royals win the World Series over the irate St. Louis Cardinals. More on them in a second...

• This was a momentous year in my life, though I often think of it in the context of the 1985 season, because this was the year I got my first sports simulation game: SherCo baseball! It was the 1985 baseball season, and the best part was, there were all kinds of extra teams you could order... and they gave you stats formulas so you could update the players yourself. What a great game!

School year 1986-87: Somewhere in here, two events that radically changed my life took place. First, I learned to play street hockey in gym class (did I ever tell you how I scored the game-winning goal in triple-OT of the seventh-grade street hockey tournament semifinals? Evidently, I have.). Second, after a few years of bullying, I finally hit back. One punch, by surprise, in the middle of a class. And I never got bullied again. Especially not when I was carrying a hockey stick. And unafraid to use it.
• This was also the best season of the man who at the time was my favorite player, and possibly the first sign of my obsessive streak: Babyfaced first baseman and all-around good guy Wally Joyner. Why Wally World? Because I realized I had every single one of his rookie cards from 1986, when he became the first rookie to start in an All-Star game, and I began collecting every single Wally Joyner card I could get my hands on. I still have most of them, at least until I stopped collecting.

August: I went off to high school. By the end of the year, I was 13 and eventually 14, and not handling it well. But that was in 1989...

June: The year I started my run at the top of the Class of 1992. It wasn't nearly as fun as it sounds. Let's skip ahead before I get too depressed.

On to Part 3!