For the first time in I have no idea how many years, I watched the MLB All-Star game the other night. It surprised me a bit to realize how rarely I’ve watched the game in the last twenty years.
I stared quizzically at half of the players during this year’s introductions as though I was trying to identify someone from a police line-up.
As a kid, the All-Star game was appointment viewing. We knew all of the players and most of us could rattle of a relevant stat or two.
In a world where summer had no internet, no mp3 players, only the most rudimentary of video games, and no cable television, baseball was often our favorite waste of time.
By ten o’clock in the morning, most mornings, the first pick-up game in our neighborhood would have already ended (usually in an argument, sometimes to steal strawberries from the patch out beyond our first base line).
The afternoon game that would come together (once tempers cooled and boredom set in) was like an Ironman competition and a test to merely endure in 95 degree heat.
Over the years, my interest in the sport has waned. I think it’s mostly due to the disparity in spending between the teams.
But it’s also football. Now, even in the middle of July, my focus is not on baseball but rather that my favorite team has signed some free agent linebacker and how that signing might affect a season that won’t really be underway for another three months.
It’s an onslaught of information that is, in the middle of summer, mostly empty calories. Even a dedicated fan doesn’t need to be so in the loop (and, if you do, you might have a serious gambling problem).
The first All-Star game that I vividly remember was 1979. Maybe it’s because my grandfather, a lifelong Pittsburgh fan, had passed away a few months earlier.
Almost every evening during baseball season, he’d sit on the couch with my grandmother. They’d hold hands and watch the Pirates on television or listen to them on radio.
(that autumn, the team would win the World Series in dramatic fashion)
Baseball was far more important to me than music in 1979, but perusing the Billboard charts from July of that year revealed a number of songs that, even as a casual listener, I recall hearing…
John Stewart (with Stevie Nicks) – Gold
from Bombs Away Dream Babies
The man who wrote Daydream Believer, Stewart was joined by Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks on the timeless-sounding Gold. It’s a pretty perfect pop song.
If Paloma and I ever open up a bait shop in the Southwest (I always pictured this song taking place on some dusty, desolate stretch of road in Arizona), I’d insist this song be on the jukebox.
The Knack- My Sharona
from Get The Knack
I had little interest in music in ’79, but, like all of us, I knew My Sharona. I don’t recall the mania surrounding them or the backlash, but I’ve wondered if it was similar to Oasis a decade and a half later.
Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?
from Look Sharp!
OK, I can’t honestly say that I ever heard Is She Really Going Out With Him? at the time. In fact, I’m positively certain that I didn’t hear it ’til several years later after Jackson had hit with Steppin’ Out.
Better late than never, though, and Is She Really Going Out With Him? is classic stuff.
Supertramp – Goodbye Stranger
from Breakfast In America
I’ve declared my affection for Breakfast In America before. But, as a non-music fan in 1979, I thought Goodbye Stranger was the brothers Gibb.