This story starts during the 1984 Summer Olympics. The family television broke at some point during the Olympiad, and rather than getting a new TV, our folks chose to make ours a TV-free home. They were cheap (dad) and children of the 60s (mom), so we had to start living without TV.
There was one exception to the no-TV rule: sports. Watching the finals for certain event was important to my mom and dad. To watch the Super Bowl, World Series, NCAA Football and Basketball Championships, and the Olympics, we borrowed a TV from my grandmother.
In 1986, the World Series was very important to me. I had followed the Mets with a passion for two years, and they were playing in the Fall Classic! I was thrilled to see my favorite players in action – not just images from the paper or my baseball card collection.
While we would get a TV for the World Series, we didn’t have one for the NLCS. It was not as important to the parents. I watched about 14 innings of Game 6 at a neighbor’s house, but listened to the end of the game on radio. I didn’t mind listening to games because of Bob Murphy. In my world, he was the voice of baseball. I adored his voice, and was happy to hear him call every inning the Mets played.
On October 25, 1986, my mom was in charge of the house because Dad was at the World Series! (He worked with Red Sox fans. Someone had an extra ticket. He jumped at the chance to attend a game in-person.) He was going to get me the game program. It is one of my most prized possessions.
My grandmother’s TV was a 10 or 12 inch unit with a removable remote control. With the bunny ears – and the lead paint all over my folks’ house – the signal was not great. I think mom moved a lamp to make room for the TV on an end-table in the living room.
I watched the first nine innings of the World Series on the TV. The top of the 10th was a disaster. My sister, who has always been a jerk, decided to cheer for the Red Sox. At that moment, she though it would be fun to tease me relentlessly about the 5-3 score. Defeated, I went to my room to hear the bitter end on my radio.
Laying under the covers, I listened to the game. I refused to open my eyes. I could not look at anything - not the TV, not my walls.
As we all know, the game turned around. In a matter of minutes, I was on my feet, bouncing on my bed. A few minutes later, I was cheering – running into the living room to watch the Mets celebrate.
I didn’t hear Vin Scully call the game-winning error. Years later, I finally watch the top and bottom of the 10th inning in its entirety. (I won the 1986 World Series DVD set from Amazin’ Avenue!) It still gives me chills to hear Vin or Bob’s call of the final play. It is my favorite nostalgia.
I have a kid now. For the first two years of her life, I have only allowed her to watch baseball or football on TV. (Someday she will be immersed in Elmo and other kid-commerce television - for the time being, I am still in control.) Last January, we spent an afternoon watching the 1986 World Series on DVD. That's when she got hooked. This kid does not know who Elmo is, but regularly asks to watch "bay-boll" with me.