My passion for professional baseball began when I was ten. In 1954, my parents signed me up for a Little League team at the U.S. Air Force base in Wiesbaden, West Germany. The six teams in the league were named after major league teams back in America.
I ended up on the team named after the Brooklyn Dodgers. With my interest in big league baseball piqued, I made a Dodgers scrapbook of articles cut from the U.S. military newspaper, The Stars and Stripes. The first clipping in my scrapbook was the line score of Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, between the Dodgers and the New York Yankees.
In 1957, I mailed the scrapbook to the Dodgers shortly before the team moved to Los Angeles. A few weeks later, it was returned to me with signatures of every player on the team, including legendary baseballers Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Tommy LaSorda, Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres, the ’55 World Series MVP who pitched a 2-0 shutout of the Yankees in the deciding game.
When the signed scrapbook arrived, I was hooked on major league baseball. In short order, I’d learned the names of the top players of every major league team. Over the years ahead, I watched a ton of baseball, mostly on TV. Watching games was a relaxing pastime that took my mind away from the inevitable anxieties of life, things like worrying about my grades at Georgia Tech, health setbacks, the Cold War and Wall Street bear markets. Later on, baseball helped distract me, at least in brief increments, from the indescribable emotional pain of losing the only woman I ever loved to suicide.
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