I’ve moved a lot since I was 20.
79-09 Philly (though I spent A semester in fall 97 at Towson outside of Baltimore)
Because of my travels and devoted passion for baseball I can almost teleport myself to where I was and what I was doing during each postseason and World Series since I began traversing the right side of the United States. The timeline of my life is erected around sporting events, usually baseball’s postseason.
Some are more memorable than others.
Watching the Eric Gregg game from my dorm room at Towson.
The Subway Series in 2000.
Luis Gonzalez doink off of Mariano when EVERYONE was quietly rooting for a symbolic NY victory. Craig Counsell’s gallop home.
’02. The Giants blew the Series, but Dusty Baker’s son and the ball Barry Bonds hit off K-Rod that created a new solar system somewhere because of its trajectory and velocity.
’03 Marlins and their young pitchers led by Beckett (and Pudge, and Miggy!) win AGAIN. Then tear is down again.
’04. Red Sox erase the curse.
’05 Yuck. White Sox and Houston in an empty Monroe apartment
’06 In TGIFriday’s in Willow Grove, PA watching the Tigers fail at PFP.
’07 Boston. Again. But holy sh%t, the Phillies made the playoffs!
’08 Brad Lidge on his knees. Some dipsiht on a street light in the Frankford section of Northeast Philadelphia. WE WON.
’09 Well, one was nice for the Phillies and damn, Chase Utley you ARE the man.
’10 Giants pitching
’11 Cruz vs. the wall and goodbye Albert.
Even though I’m no Yankee or Red sox fan, the Aaron F8cking Boone moment is one of the top five most indelible moments of my baseball fandom. It happened ten years ago today.
Why does this moment stand out? Good question. It’s probably the only time I’ll ever be able to ‘transport’ a la Star Trek in my life. The scene and atmosphere are that vivid in my memory.
I was a few weeks away from starting a new job in Saginaw – find a more dramatic move of climate in the contiguous 48 from Orlando to Saginaw – and I was on the air for my station in Orlando (95.3 Party) hosting a show from Universal Studios during the world reknowned Halloween Horror Nights attraction. That’s probably the principle reason why the evening is so easy to recall. I like to say I live for Halloween as most people live for the holiday season at the end of the year.
I don’t dress up. But I love the just-so-crisp air before the winter chill sets in, we’ve got our NFL and college football story lines for the year rising up, and I love the adrenaline of being startled. That’s right, I really don’t get scared. I’ve never cowered in fear at ‘haunted’ houses, but my innate senses can only feel so much before I miss someone jumping out before me. Orlando was the best place I ever lived. I always said, if I wasn’t doing a morning show, I would’ve partied myself into the ground. Ohhhhhh, DJ Jake.
Halloween Horror Nights is the very best haunted attraction I’ve ever been to and I was lucky enough to experience it, and eschew the lines (radio perk alert!), two years in a row. Go, and buy what I think they call the RIP pass. The lines can be HOURS long, and in ’02 when I went, it rained. No, it torrentially poured. Such is life in Florida. The most fearsome thing I saw all night was the looks of people who were drenched and then livid that my coworkers and I just zoomed pass them to the front of the line on the media tour.
Back to ’03! I’d peaked my head into the bar near our broadcast setup multiple times to keep an eye on the pivotal Game 7 during the evening. I don’t recall the specific time, but I finally wrapped up my show for the night and once again began to file past angry attraction goers. I wasn’t hosting a sports show back then, so needing to see every pitch wasn’t a necessity.
Did my go-round of the attractions that night, and basically was ready to bid adieu to my time in Orlando. I returned to the area we’d been broadcasting from. It was a circular open promenade type setting with a movie theater sized screen on the side of a wall that would typically be running in-park ads or commercials, or at that point in the night, telling everyone to GO HOME.
It had the game on.
Orlando, and much of Florida, is transient. Many of those people coming the NY area. Whoever was running the screen that night knew his crowd well! Or that person knew we were about to witness history. Another of the decade of daggers driven into the chest of the Red Sox and their fans. How fitting consider all the blood and gore that inhabited where we were. Though this was about to more painful than any brief scare by makeup and props.
Instead of making this sound like Hershey, PA the night of the Wilt 100 game and saying there were tens thousands of people tensely watching the game enter into extra innings…I’ll say there were A LOT of people, and it was late, humid and sweaty.
No one would leave the area. I’d heard some commotion about something with Pedro Martinez and Grady Little, but the tension had me too consumed to ask WTF happened.
Aaron Boone stepped to the plate.
Next came the pandemonium like I’d never been caught up in before.
I’ve been at games in the past with terrific endings that didn’t match the excitement and hysteria that occured when that ball landed into the Yankee fans standing the left field seats.
Somewhere along the way in retelling this tale, I should’ve said ENERGIZE, because for the last 30 minutes I’ve been typing away at this, I feel like I’ve been back in steamy Orlando.
Happy Birthday Aaron Bleepin’ Boone.
Thanks for the unforgettable memory.