“Those were the days”, were lyrics sung, quite off-key, by Edith and Archie Bunker in ALL IN THE FAMILY. Those lyrics and the fact that the World Series started this week, took me back to a time in my past when the World Series was a Really, Really big deal. A time when baseball was still King!
This week the World Series got underway featuring the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The first time that two National League clubs faced each other in the World Series. Oh yes, I forgot. They moved the Astros from the National League to the American League a few years ago.
The Dodgers, with their $265 million dollar payroll are making their first World Series appearance since 1988, when Kirk Gibson hit his famous walk-off home run in Game 1 of a five-game Series win. The Dodgers in the World Series takes me back to “Those Were The Days”. A time when baseball was still King. The 1950’s when the Yankees were THE TEAM and you were either a fan or you hated their success. Their constant, overbearing, numbing success!
It was a time of Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Don Larsen and Ralph Terry. Mix in a Clete Boyer and a Gil McDougald with a Bill Skowron and a Hank Bauer and you had another championship! The Yankees and the World Series were like biscuits and gravy! One went with the other.
“Those were the days” was a time of very little television. The World Series games were still played in the afternoons, before television ratings and night games became the most important thing. I can still remember going to school and having the office staff and, yes even teachers, in their classrooms tuning in the afternoon broadcasts on their radios so the whole class could listen in and root for somebody to beat those “Damn Yankees”. If it was “Da Bums” from Brooklyn, so much the better.
Johnny Podres and Sandy Koufax were on the mound for the Brooklyn Dodgers and they featured Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese in the field. Could ANYTHING be more important in America than that? Not standing and respecting the National Anthem was the FARTHEST thing from anyone’s mind in those times!
Has there ever been a better time to be a young kid in America than in the 1950’s and 1960’s ? I don’t think so. Sure we had our problems in this country back then but they didn’t seem as big. We were much more concerned about who was going to win the World Series than who was going to win the White House! We didn’t know that Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin had problems. We didn’t know that the Dodgers were going to soon leave Brooklyn for California. We only cared about who could hit a cure ball! We only cared that the Social Studies teacher’s radio kept tuned to the station that told us who had scored in the bottom of the fifth inning!
The World Series was the greatest show on earth. Our very lives, our disposition and emotion hung on every pitch, every foul ball. Jim Murray perhaps said it best, “Baseball is a game where a curve is an optical illusion, a screwball can be a pitch or a person, stealing is legal and you can spit anywhere you like except in the umpire’s eye or on the baseball.”
Do I miss those times? THOSE WERE THE DAYS MY FRIEND!
Buddy Tabler is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune and his views don’t necessarily reflect those of the paper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.