Thursday, June 30, 2005

The National Pass-Time

In addition to being the national pastime, baseball is (or at least was) the national pass-time, too. We passed our time with a ballgame on the radio or TV. We even paid attention.

A fond memory of childhood came to mind today. In the early mid 70's I was watching an A's game on the TV. It was summer and school was out. I was about 10 years old. It was in the late afternoon, and could have been a night game from back East. Anyway, the A's had a contest each game where, in a certain inning, if an A's player hit a home run, a contestant would win a certain amount in groceries from a supermarket chain. If they failed to hit a dinger, the amount would increase for the next game. Just send in a postcard with your name and address to enter the contest.

This particular home run inning, for a whopping $1400 in groceries, had a contestant, "Frank Wagner of Concord." Hey! He lives on my street! Oh, boy! Now, $1400 was a lot back in those days. Joe Rudi was as good a player to hit a homer as anybody. And he did just that. Elated, I leapt for joy, and immediately tore out the door and sprinted down to the end of the street to congratulate my neighbor. But an interesting thing happened. No sooner had I hit the edge of the driveway that I noticed about five other kids on our street ripping the doors off their hinges to head down to the Wagners' house. We had a virtual parade in no time. It seemed that everybody in the neighborhood was watching.

Anyway, we made it down to their house, and he still hadn't come home from work. His wife had no clue as to what we all were talking about. Then his truck came around the corner. A welcoming committee of giddy children blasted his senses with the news. He had completely forgotten that he sent in a postcard. I'm sure those groceries lasted quite a few months. The memory lasted a lifetime.

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