My first baseball game

I went camping this past weekend near Coloma, California, and on my way back to the Bay Area on Sunday morning, I stopped by my parents’ house in Sacramento and had breakfast with them. I’ve been living near Oakland for a few years, and I don’t see my folks nearly enough. It was great eating my mom’s waffles and drinking out of the Batman mug that I got when I was six. I’ll be 27 in a few weeks but I still insist on using that mug every time I’m at the house.

During breakfast, we talked baseball a bit, and my parents mentioned the Giants’ new policy of charging varying rates on tickets depending on who’s playing. It’s called dynamic pricing, and it basically dictates that the same seats that might cost $6 for a Giants-Marlins game could go for $30 when the Dodgers are in town. I’ve been a Giants fan since about the same time that I got the Batman mug, and I understand people upset about the new pricing structure, though it seems reasonable from a business perspective. Also, remembering my own experience, if I was bringing a kid to a game, I’d rather take them to see the Marlins than shell out extra for the Dodgers. It doesn’t make much difference to a kid.

For all I know about baseball now, I was pretty much clueless the first time I went to a game in August of 1987. My parents and I were visiting family in Seattle, and my Uncle Brett, my dad and I took in a Yankees-Mariners contest at the Kingdome. I had recently turned four, and every half inning, I asked if the game was over and we could go home yet. I mentioned about this in the discussion on dynamic pricing Sunday morning, and my dad said Dave Righetti got the save that game, which led me to find something more.

I’ve recently learned of a Web site called Retrosheet.org, which is considered an essential tool, like Baseball-Reference, for researchers of America’s pastime. Where Baseball-Reference offers season statistics for pretty much any professional ballplayer, Retrosheet is built around providing game info. It has box scores dating back to 1871 and can provide split breakdowns for how any hitter fared versus any pitcher, telling me for instance that Ken Henderson hit .304 lifetime against Bob Gibson (even if Henderson recently told me Gibson was one of the toughest pitchers he faced.)

Using what my dad said about Righetti, I visited Retrosheet on Sunday afternoon, looking for a day in August of 1987 where the Yankee closer got a save at the Kingdome. The only game that fit this description occurred August 18, a 4-3 win for the Yankees. Though I don’t remember, it appears I got a great first game. If I had a time machine, I know I’d enjoy watching Don Mattingly go 3-for-5 and seeing the Mariners almost tie the score in the bottom of the ninth, getting to Righetti for a run. I may not have understood it then, but I value it now.

I occasionally write posts related to my childhood. To read some of them, go here.

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