It was easiest to conceal in early April and October, because the weather was such that a boy could wear a long sleeve shirt to school in Alabama and not look too odd.
Both of these times of year were best because it meant I could hide “my equipment” for Major League Baseball’s Opening Day and the World Series. Many more games were played during the day back then – there was no ESPN or Internet or all these fancy phones that you could watch a baseball game on.
There was radio…
It was AM radio…
It was heaven…
My Papa (grandfather) not only sold televisions, radios and record players, but he also liked buying and making cool gadgets and that was good for a grandson.
One of the best gadgets he ever gave me was a very small transistor radio he had picked up or put together. It could easily be hidden in a pocket or taped to a young boy’s hairless chest making him feel like an undercover agent. An earpiece could be plugged in the radio and the wire fed through a long sleeve shirt leaving the little white earpiece speaker sticking out of the cuff of a long sleeve shirt.
While the teacher was telling the class something that I probably thought I already knew, I could put an elbow on my desk, rest my head in my hand and listen to the Atlanta Braves play (and look very interested at the chalkboard).
Almost 40 years later, I do realize that wasn’t a great use of my time in junior high school, but it is a good memory.
I thought about it the other day when my son sent me a text message wanting to know a password so that he could watch the Braves play on his phone on opening day.
I told him, “You don’t need to be watching baseball while you are at school.”
That makes me a bit of a hypocrite I guess.
The Braves finished last in their division that year, Dale Murphy was 20 years old, Phil Niekro was 37 and still hanging on. In 1976, only the Montreal Expos lost more games in the National League than my Atlanta Braves.
It didn’t matter. On Opening Day, the Braves were in first (along with every other team).
The Cincinnati Reds would go on to win the World Series, beating the New York Yankees in four straight games. Life is good in the South when Yankees lose.
Future Hall of Fame catcher, Johnny Bench, was the World Series’ Most Valuable Player.
Where is Johnny now?
Last time I saw him, he was on television pushing some sort of miracle salve made from emu oil that is good for arthritis, muscle aches, bug bites and sunburn. The emu is a large flightless fast running, high jumping bird originally from Australia. They are rather ugly.
There was a time back in the 80’s and 90’s that folks were raising emus hoping to get rich. They did not.
There has to be some sort of connection to these failed dreams of emu meat filling US kitchens and restaurants and the one fellow who figured out emu oil mixed into a salve could be pushed by an ex-major league catcher.
I’m willing to bet that Johnny makes more money pushing the miracle bird salve than he did playing baseball back in the mid 1970’s. His salary that year was about half what the minimum salary is today for a rookie and about 1 percent of the highest paid catcher in the major leagues.
I love baseball, but it seems that in the overall scheme of things, these fellows make way too much money these days than when I had a wire running between my sleeve and my arm to listen to games.
I’m not saying the players should give the money back, I’m just saying that it seems a little much.
Now we’re talking about paying college kids to play ball.
Perhaps, just perhaps, the miracle salve that Johnny Bench pushes on television would help me figure it out if I just rubbed a little on my head.
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