Saturday, July 30, 2005

Memories of McCovey and Kirk Gibson

As our family was in downtown Walnut Creek today, we decided to drop into McCovey's restaurant for lunch. All of the baseball memorabilia on the walls brought back some good memories. Growing up in the 70's, my favorite ball player was Willie McCovey. It was sad to see him play for another team, but when he returned to the Giants, all was well again.

As was common back then, children emulated the batting stances of their favorite players. My favorite was McCovey's. His slow, but deliberate chop motion of the bat across the plate, with a dragging return to the shoulder was classic. So was his securing of his batting helmet on his head, quite the opposite of Mays' almost deliberate losing of his.

My other favorite players were Johnny LeMaster (after McCovey's retirement), Alfredo Griffin while with the A's, and Barry Bonds in latter days. There was a period that I didn't have a favorite, but maybe Will Clark had an edge on others.

Tonight I saw the A's on TV play the Tigers. They showed Kirk Gibson as a coach with Detroit. In his playing days with the Tigers, he was a favorite heckling object of the left field bleacher bums. We were merciless toward him. In an 80's book, Baseball Confidential, surveyed players ranked A's fans as the third worst in baseball, behind the two New York teams, with Giants fans a close fourth. Of course, with hostility toward visiting players as the criteria, this made A's fans the third best in our view. Gibson was quoted as ranking the Oakland bleacher creatures as the worst. We had a hunch that this was so. He said that we ripped not only him, but his IQ, dog, mother, you name it. He wondered what we all did for a living since we were all there every day regardless of day/night, etc. He even quoted some of the chants we yelled at him. I think he would be surprised at what a cross section of society we bleacher bums were and at our creative ability to skip out of work to attend a game.

I'll never forget when one of the bleacher bums named Kevin showed up for one game with this book in his hand. We all loved the fact we were recognized as having an affect on the game for just a $2 bleacher ticket and some fit vocal chords.

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