This was originally published in The Athletic.
I’m almost 9 years old in the summer of 1986. It’s a late Saturday afternoon in Taylor Mill, and we’re sitting in the breezeway on Ridgeway Drive. Papa with a scotch and his pipe, Nana with a cup of coffee and a romance novel, and a Zenith radio piping in a ballgame being played on the west coast.
The Cincinnati Post is sprawled out across the table, with boxscores I’ve studied, standings I’ve memorized and a recap of the game I couldn’t quite fight off sleep to finish listening to the night before. The men on the radio – one sounding sleepy and calm, the other sounding urgent yet at the same time relaxed are discussing a double switch as they head to a break.
“Papa, what’s a double switch?”
I’m 13 years old in October of 1990. Thousands of miles west of Cincinnati, the final few blows are being dealt to the snarling, imposing defending champs, and an impossible dream is about to become reality. Hundreds of miles east of the soon-to-be-crowned world champions, it’s me and the biggest Reds fan the world has ever known, both displaced for now on the east coast. As a divorced parent, it’s my dad’s weekend for visitation. As an early teenager that doesn’t see his old man as much as he should, I’m secretly hoping that the World Series can bring us a little closer together. I’ve blown off an eighth grade Halloween party, choosing instead to spend my Saturday night watching my dad watch his team.
The Reds have gone quietly in their half of the ninth, each hitter just getting their at-bats out of the way more than anything, and my dad has gone to fetch his big turntable radio, the one that if tuned just right, can grab almost crystal-clear radio signals from afar. Jack Buck and Tim McCarver are being muted, and through the AM static, a booming voice makes a proclamation …
“And the 1990 world championship belongs to the Cincinnati Reds!”
To read the entire piece, go to The Athletic.