Sunday, May 15, 2011

30 Years ago today.....


...I watched perfection. I was not there, but I saw it on the tube.

In 1981, the Cleveland Indians were an early season surprise. Most fans knew at that time they were playing over their heads at this point of the season, but we would take the wins as they came. I figured during the day of May 15, 2001, the Tribe wouldn't be playing their scheduled game that night against the Toronto Blue Jays since it was raining all day.

That evening, I had nothing planned since the part time job I was working was a landscaping job and it was too wet to be doing anything. Kathy was going to a baby shower in her honor as we were expecting out first child in late July. So I decided to go visit my parents in Cleveland. After we ate some supper, I decided to check on the television to see if the baseball game was going to be played. To my surprise, it was. The WUAB broadcast team of Joe Tait and Bruce Drennan were in their places, Tait proclaiming "It's a beautiful night for deep sea fishing." Normally the proclamation was, "a beautiful night for baseball."

Pitching for the Indians was Len "Large Lenny" Barker. Pitching for Toronto was Luis Leal. The Tribe got on the board early with 2 runs in the first inning, but then both pitchers settled in for pretty much the rest of the game. I was watching the game with my brother, Ricky, and as the game progressed, we both sensed we were watching something real special. There were some good defensive plays, one in particular by third baseman Toby Harrah.

About the 6th inning, I realized that none of the Toronto players hadn't even reached base, let alone get a hit. I let Ricky know that Barker had a perfect game going and I was getting pretty excited about it. About the 8th inning, my dad came into the room and asked what the excitement was about. I told him that Len Barker had a perfect game going. Ricky said that "he might have a no hitter too." Our sister joined in the excitement as well. I was wishing at this point that I was one of the 7,290 fans at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, but looking back I was glad I could share this memory with my brother.

Back to the game. Top of the 9th, and all 3 of us were on our feet. I had been standing for several innings at this point, and was about a foot off the ground as well. The last of the Toronto batters was catcher Ernie Whitt. Cause of concern here as he broke up a no hit bid for Dan Spillner a little over a week prior to this game. But on this night Whitt hit a fly ball to centerfielder Rick Manning, who squeezed the ball and then ran into the mound area and joined the celebration. Len Barker just had pitched the 11th perfect game in major league history.

My brother, sister, and I were all in the living room celebrating at this point. About 10 minutes later, as I was going home, my dad looked at me and said, "sorry you had such a rotten time tonight."

Perfect game and perfect memory of time I could spend with my developmentally disabled brother.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

That's the kind of memory that you hold onto like a jewel, and take it out when you need a smile.