Today’s blast from baseball’s past is this screaming headline from the Cincinnati Post, and more Cincinnati Reds memorabilia from the box in my closest.
As we’ve covered previously, my Dad bestowed me with a generational a love of the Reds, which developed concurrently with my love for the Texas Rangers. It seemed perfectly logical, since one was National League, and one American. And, given my Rangers’ place as hopeless losers, with the physics of the baseball universe forever against them, it made total sense.
I would cheer for one perennial loser, and one remarkable winner.
As we’ve also previously covered, Pete Rose was my favorite player from that era. My Grandmother —who we called “Grandmother”— abetted this love by standing on line one rainy day to snag this autographed Rose shirt for me….a shirt I have never worn.
We don’t need to belabor the point that Rose is a liar, cheat, and thief, and potential sexual abuser. There is no need to defend him in any way, and he continues to justly pay for his sins the ways current justice is available. I’m asking you to journey back to the time before anybody publicly realized any of this, when he was my greatest hero, and take a gander at this headline.
Google helps me determine that this screaming headline was Easter Week; so we must have been up in Park Hills, Kentucky –a tiny town, just across the Ohio River from Cincy— visiting my Grandmother.
I’ll come back to the screaming headline in a moment, but first to the other covers here. My love for the Cincinnati Reds helped me understand that SOME teams, somewhere, always had success. No, our Rangers never did. But THEY did, and I could piggyback on their joy
The Cincinnati Reds of the late 1970s were one of the greatest baseball franchises in modern baseball history. You can’t come at me with the Astros because, as we’ve determined, the Astros were cheaters. They were known as “The Big Red Machine,” and they captured our national sports imagination for those few years. I almost lost my friendship with Kevin Moore when he unthinkably chose to cheer for the Red Sox in 1975.
Cincy is not a big town, but it is a beautiful one. But they showed how the nation could fall for a sports team outside the traditional markets…which is one of the annoying things I’m hearing about this year’s series….that because Arizona and Texas are not marquee franchises, there is no interesting story line. I trust my posts this week are putting the lie to this.
My love for those Reds, my heartbreak for the Rangers, taught me another of baseball’s great lessons:
On the day of your greatest joy, it will also be the day of another person’s greatest sorrow.
This is similar to theme of yesterday’s post, but let’s zero in…
Every day *you* have had your greatest triumphs, somebody else has experience their greatest sadness. And vice versa.
That’s the way life works. That’s the way all championship sports works.
And that’s why, every Sunday in church, we pray for the “joys and concerns” of our community. Yes, the concerns are always a longer list, because as brain science shows us, we tend to embody our traumas deeper into our souls.
But it is demonstrably true that, on any Sunday, the community prayers BOTH “Hear our Prayer” (for the concerns) AND “We give you thanks” (for the joys). This one of the powerful witnesses of a community, so gathered.
In our sufferings, we say “Look…it might be better some day…it finally was for Mary, sitting over there…”
And in our greatest triumphs, we are challenged to temper our pride, and humbly recall how nobody stays on top forever….sufferings eventually come to us all.
This is the spiritual discipline of “Equanimity” that I wrote about some months ago now….to be encouraged to feel our highs and lows, allow them both, and seek to recall that it’s all part of the same ride.
My dual love of the Rangers and Reds in the 1970s first helped teach me this lesson.
And so, it gets me back to this screaming sports headline from the Cincinnati Post.
I kept this newspaper because even as a fifteen-year-old, I understood that it was a big deal for a print newspaper to run a headline just that big. I kept it for the pure community JOY it represents.
Just look at that. That’s Pearl Harbor, or 911, sized.
And all because Pete Rose signed a two-year baseball contract.
But that’s just how much Cincinnati loved those Reds in those days.
Here in DFW, we’ve never had a screaming baseball headline that big.
But we’re up 3-1 in this current World Series.
And that’s already a place no Rangers fan has ever been before, in our history.
What is it like to live in a town with a baseball headline that big?
We’ve never known.
But we’d sure like to find out.