There was once a young boy who went to sleep listening to his small transistor radio. The circular dial on its front was more than a tuner, it was the young boy’s window to a far away world…the destination depending upon atmospheric conditions.
AM radio, Amplitude Modulation, is still iffy in perfect conditions and FM, Frequency Modulation, was the new-fangled, next big thing of the early Sixties. AM radio stations blasting rock and roll so clearly during the daylight hours became impossible to pick up due to changes in the ionosphere or went off the air entirely.
Magically it seemed to the young boy, AM transmitters bounced their signal off the charged layer of the atmosphere. Honestly, the old man who replaced the young boy still believes it is magic. The young boy knew none of the science, he just knew night time brought in far off places and in the summer, brought him baseball games played late into the night.
Just last night I was reminded of the young boy, now wrinkled and gray. As I drove home in the early evening, my satellite radio brought in a far off, crystal-clear signal from somewhere on the left coast. Not the crackling, fading in or out signal from his childhood.
The little transistor radio brought him games played by “Mr. Sunshine”, Ernie Banks of the Cubbies or “The Killer”, Harmon Killebrew of the Twins…depending upon atmospheric condition. Sometimes it brought games from southern climes with sportscasters speaking in an excited, rapid-fire language the young boy did not understand. On very special nights, the atmospheric gods brought him the Detroit Tigers and their star outfielder Al Kaline. I remember the young boy struggling to stay awake long enough to hear the last out recorded.
This was a time when baseball was the American Pastime…before the breakneck speed of our lives, the internet, iPhones, and interactive video games made baseball seem too slow. This was a time when we built up our athletic idols instead of finding ways to tear them down. A time before the designated hitter and performance-enhancing drugs. It was an era when bases were bags and sandlots and playgrounds were filled with youth dreaming of being the next “Mick” or “Sandy” or “The Say Hey Kid.” It was a time before life got in the way.
I listened to a broadcaster whose voice I didn’t recognize, announcing players I did not know, playing for a team that didn’t exist when the young boy listened to his transistor radio. For a moment I was sad until I remembered the young boy. The young boy grew up to play the game he loved and later coached it for a goodly part of his life.
Baseball may no longer be the American Pastime, but it still mimics life. Life involves so much failure and successful people find ways to rise above their missteps. Baseball is the same, a game built on failure. A great hitter fails seventy percent of the time. A hitter may do everything right and still get robbed, his line drive somehow finding a glove. A pitcher may make the perfect pitch that ends with a “fourteen hopper” somehow finding its way through a drawn-in infield. Baseball gives, and it takes away…just like life.
For more wit and witticisms from Don Miller https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM
Image of Ernie Banks from CBS News