1963. That says it all. Summer Vacation had finally arrived, and on Memorial Day, we loaded up our new Plymouth Valiant, the one with the slant 6 engine that my Dad thought was the best engine ever, and we headed out for Missouri to visit numerous family members on both sides.Yes, I was excited to see aunts, uncles, cousins, the farm, and so forth, but the most excitement I felt was reserved for the fact that Dad had told my brother and I that when we saw Uncle Bob in Kansas City, that we were going to go to a Major League game between what was then the Kansas City A"s., now the Oakland A's, and the Chicago White Sox.
Now, the Sox had become my favorite American league team at the time because they had players like Nellie Fox, Pete Ward, Floyd Robinson, and my favorite pitcher, Juan Pizarro. OK, the main reason that I liked Pizarro was because I had the neatest baseball card of him when he was with the Milwaukee Braves.
So, the day arrived and after spending a week in Joplin, Missouri, visiting Mom's brother, we were off to KC to see Dad's brother, Bob. After checking the schedule, we picked the night of June 7th to attend a game, and guess what? Juan Pizarro was slated to pitch than night against Dave Wickersham and the A's. It was a muggy night, the humidity a bit overbearing, but did we care? Not a bit. It was time to go to Municipal Stadium and see the game. The excitement was bubbling up to the surface and was about to spill over.
At last, we got there, and since this was a vacation splurge, Dad purchased tickets right behind home plate.
We entered the stadium, and these little Idaho eyes could not believe what they were seeing. For right in front of us was the most beautiful green grass that I had ever seen. OK, Municipal Stadium was no Yankee Stadium, but for a kid from Wallace, Idaho, it was the most magnificent thing I had ever seen.
Yes, there was a game that night, and the Sox won it 8-1, and to top it all off, Pizarro actually hit a homer in the 8Th inning.
I have been to many Major League games since that one in 1963, including ones in Los Angeles, Seattle, Anaheim, but none thrilled me as much as that one did.
Old Municipal Stadium is long gone, replaced by a beautiful new stadium built for the Kansas City Royals, but for me the memory of that splendid green grass, the smell of hot dogs, and cigar smoke, the chatter of the fans around me, and the voice of the drunk in front us us who wanted to do bad things to the umpire, will be ingrained in my brain forever.