TUPATALK: Saturday mornings at the altar of the Game of the Week created lifetime memories

·2 min read

A few days ago I wrote about some of my memories as a young sports fan back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

As I emphasized, it was a magic time that revolved around the daily sports pages, sports magazines and the few games on TV.

One of my enduring recollections was the NBC Baseball Game of the Week.

This was the only chance fans of the Great Pastime had to watch a regular season game on the tube, at least in most the nation, where Cable-TV was still years away from widespread use and there was no such thing as personal computers and the web.

The baseball game of the week would come on either late Saturday mornings or at noon, I don’t recall which.

We had a smaller TV back then, sitting on top of cabinet that separated the kitchen from the front room.

On Saturday mornings, I would turn the TV toward where I lie prone on another ledge, about four feet tall.

I put a piece of a notebook paper in front of me to keep my own running boxscore and, often with my chin in my hands, I studied the game — and took incredible pleasure in these moments — the way a budding surgeon might watch a heart procedure.

The announcing team of Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek and Joe Garagiola always will be my first team of broadcast, simply because they introduced me to the subtleties of the game, and also the flesh and color of it.

Curt came across as the senior statesman, Tony as the intense but not unlikable observer and Joe as the commentator who had never outgrown his boyish enthusiasm for the game.

No one of the games stands out to me. Because it was a once-a-week thing, ratings were crucial so the contest always feature the upper cream of the leagues.

And, back then there was no interleague play — something I wish had never been messed with — so that game featured either the American League or National League.

Honestly, I sometimes didn’t make it all the way with my boxscore, but that wasn’t the main purpose of it all.

For a couple of hours I got to absorb myself into the idyllic world of big league baseball competition, listen to the announcers and populate a world of personal wonder with lasting recollections.

We lived in that house only one baseball season, really,

But, the ledge remains, to me, a holy platform of grace-filled Saturday mornings and afternoons, in which the challenges of the world centered around balls, strikes and hits.

This article originally appeared on Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise: TupaTalk: Finding meaning in sports as a teenager