Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Scorebook Memories by Mark Hughson

      My first major league ball game was at the SkyDome. The Jays were on the cusp of their dominating run (Eastern Division champs in '91, World Series wins in '92 and '93).  Our seats were terrible. We were in the upper deck and behind a huge pillar. My mom had a quick chat with an usher and we were able to move up a dozen rows to where we could see everything and more comfortably nose bleed.

      Toronto lost that game, but man did they look good. Juan Guzman pitched six solid innings, John Olerud and Greg Myers homered, Devon White homered and stole two bases! Bullpen pitching and some Brewer comeback luck lured the W away from the home team. Yet, the Blue Jays still looked good! Those bright big league lights! Those blue team colors! That grass was the greenest I'd ever seen. THE JUMBOTRON!!! So cool. And of course, the official scorebook!

     The book breaks down into three main parts: Articles on the Toronto players, “fan services” that give you things like a map of the SkyDome and info on purchasing tickets, and advertisements.

     The articles are a cool read. Due to the whole book being solely about the Jays, it wasn't just the all-stars that got some ink. Tom Candiotti and his knucklball get a feature, as do hopeful up-and-comers Mark Whiten and Glenallen Hill. Closers Duane Ward and Tom Henke get the cover story. Remember this is back in '91, when writers were still getting fresh mileage on the topic of relief pitching and specialized bullpens. There's even a few Zisk-worthy stories. One is about two fans doing the stadium-tour trek. Another is a delightful piece about the time Kenny Williams almost stole third, ran back to second, and thanks to two consecutive errors by the Yankees, ran back to third, crashing into and steamrolling John Mclaren (Toronto's third base case coach), and eventually made it to home plate.

      The fan services pages break up the action a bit, giving us some pertinent info like team rosters and stadium information, as well as plugs for whatever the Blue Jays want to sell to tourists and season-ticket holders. The worst page is the club directory, which lists and pictures administration people, a.k.a. old white dudes in bad suits.

     The advertisements are typical of the era, and all blatantly shout "Middle-class male ages 27-52, buy me!" Cars lead the way, followed by cameras (remember those?), alcohol, TVs, and power tools. But aside from your basic nostalgia, I love how most of the ads have a baseball slant. It’s not just a Honda Accord, it’s a vehicle with “enough room for a 7th inning stretch. Mitsubishi TVs will give you the home advantage. And of course we all remember the Rolaid's Relief Man of the Year, right? It doesn't matter what it is—money management, bus companies, batteries, those mad men find a way!  

   At 192 pages, it filled whatever time wasn't spent being awestruck at the sight of Mookie Wilson's back.  And now, yikes, 27 years later, it was a nice trip down memory lane.  Usually I come across old paperback baseball books, enjoy them for a short while, and donate them back to the dollar bins. I'm holding on to this one.

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