Baseball beginnings

A worker prepares for Opening Day in Washington, D.C., where the Nationals made their debut.Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

MSNBC is asking readers to send in their memories from their first big league baseball games. Your responses:

Wrigley memories
We lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin - midway between two great baseball towns - Milwaukee & Chicago, in the 1950's. My Swedish grandmother, who wasn't very athletic at all, loved the Chicago Cubs and would listen to all their games on the radio. And every week on Ladies Day she & some of her lady friends would take the train to Chicago & see the game. When I was about 12 years old, she took my younger brother and I to our first baseball game! We took the train, had breakfast at a little Swedish restaurant and walked to Wrigley Field. I don't remember who we played, but I do remember that we had a great time and this always will be my favorite baseball game. Another time, in about 1957, my Dad went to a Milwaukee Braves game and caught a fly ball. At that time, you just took the ball to the dugout and the team would pass the ball around & sign it. He had signatures of Hank Arron, Warren Spann, Joe Torre, etc. -- several Hall of Famers. As a treat, he gave the ball to my brother and I. Of course, we played catch with it until all signatures were rubbed off! If only we had that ball today. Oh well, we did love showing off the ball to our friends. To this day, I still love going to baseball games (now the Colorado Rockies). Get a hot dog and beer and I'm a happy camper!
--Phyllis (Cayo) Ezit, Evergreen Colo.

Teddy Ballgame
In 1956, while stationed at Andrews Air Base Washington, D.C., I received tickets from the Red Cross for a Senators/Red Sox game at ancient Griffith Stadium. Still vivid as a memory I see Ted Williams' sweet swing and the beautiful old park with its wooden stands and outfield walls painted dark green. Of course, the walls were spruced up with advertisements for local businesses. I can still smell the cigar smoke and stale beer. Being a kid from California, it was my first opportunity to see a big league game. Seeing Ted Williams hit one into the stands made the event even more special.
--Charles Pitts, Las Vegas, Nev.

Unforgettable day at Chavez Ravine
Dodger Stadium, Opening Day, 1962...with my father, a high school coach, proudly watching his former student, Willie Davis, take center field. We had been in the clubhouse just before the game, and I was now clutching a baseball, signed by every member of the 1962 Dodger squad -- Willie & Tommy Davis, Frank Howard, Duke Snyder, Jim Gilliam, Ron Fairly, Maury Wills, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, manager Walter Alston. I was 9-years-old and already loved baseball beyond reason. I sat above the home dugout, alternately fixating on the autographed ball, Willie, my father, Dodger Stadium; the game a blur. That baseball ended up as a gift to my best friend. My gift was the remembrance of sharing one of the greatest days' of my father's life and a profound love for the game, now passed along to my own children.
--Burton R. Morton, Coeur D'Alene, Idaho

Big league, small park
In the early 60`s I attended my first game at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds were playing the S.F. Giants. Willie Mays was shagging balls in the outfield catching them behind his back and just having fun (those were the good old days). I watched players like Willie McCovey, and Juan Marachal for the Giants and Rose, Pinson, Robinson, Johnny Edwards for the Reds, it was great. Crosley Field now, would be nothing more than a Double-A park, maybe a Triple-A park.
--Dan Shelton, Houston, Texas

She still sees it clearly
Girls love baseball as much as boys do and from the age of seven I was crazy about the game. My big hero was Mickey Mantle, but since I lived in Philadelphia, I also loved Richie Ashburn. I remember, when I was 10, my mother took us to Connie Mack Stadium on a beautiful spring day. We walked into the dark, stone entrance and then up a ramp whereupon my eyes took in the beautiful, green field, the baselines, the bases and way out in Center field, Richie himself. That day has stayed with me through these 50 years and I can see it just as clearly as way back then.
--Lucy Muller, Cragsmoor, N.Y.

A different era
Rocky Colavito and the Cleveland Indians were coming to play the Detroit Tigers on May 29, 1965 and elementary school safety crossing guards from across the area got in free.  The week before the game, permission slips went home for the unusual field trip.

Looking over the box score from that game, I realize how much baseball I didn’t know at the time.  Attending my first professional baseball game, the stadium provided my entertainment for the day.  The game looked like any baseball game that could be seen at various diamonds in Michigan and Ohio.  In those days, football was much more compelling to watch and more fun to play.

The most vivid memories are of the chaperone (Mr. Cherry) and the ride to Tiger Stadium on a school bus.  Fifty cents got a box of popcorn and a coke, and everyone got a Tigers triangular pennant as part of the promotion. 

Detroit won that day, and that was all anyone asked about the trip.  The next game would be two years later with my own money and a growing appreciation for baseball.  Life was better before events jaded our sense of fair play.
--Bob Emmitt, Hyannis, Mass.

Remembering “Pops”
The first time I attended a big league baseball game was in 1980 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh where the Pirates played the San Diego Padres. I can't remember who won the game, but I remember that my hero, Willie Stargell, went 0-for-4. During one of his at bats, my heart nearly jumped out of my throat as Stargell hit a deep fly ball to left field and I thought he had hit a home run because I lost sight of the ball under the glare of the lights. However, I was disappointed to see the Padres outfielder catch the ball for the out. I thought about that memory when I heard word of Stargell's passing several years ago. Thanks for the good memory, Willie.
--Charles Conrad, Lynchburg, Va.

A wonderful beginning
My first big league game was April of 1974 -- Mets versus Braves at Shea Stadium. I went with my Dad and two brothers. I was new to baseball then but I do believe that game is the reason why I am a diehard Mets fan to this day. The Mets rallied to tie the game in the ninth and pulled it out in the 14th. I'll always remember the vision of seeing the beautiful field of green which through the eyes of a nine-year-old was so monstrous.
--Rosanne Bolaski, Cohoes, N.Y.

Giving the best gift
I haven't been a big baseball fan for most of my life, but learned the nuances and mechanics of the game about 10 years ago and have been a fan ever since. I was at my third Devil Rays game watching Wade Boggs. I was poised at the third base line with my glove and BOOM! Boggsy smacked it left foul and I got it in my glove. I was ecstatic.
I looked down to my left and there was this kid sitting next to his mom, wearing a little league hat and a Boggsy jersey, looking at me with those eyes kids have. I gave him the ball.
--James McHan, Zephyrhills, Fla.

A memory courtesy of Mr. Cub
My first game was in July of 1978 at Wrigley Field, with my beloved Cubs versus the Mets. I was seven years old. We had seats along the first base line in the second deck in right field.  I think we lost, 5-3.  The best part was coming in to take our seats.  My parents had just gotten me just gotten a program and my father was starting to explain keeping score when he looked up and saw an African-American gentleman I did not recognize dressed in a suit and tie.  My father grabbed the program from my hand and started chasing after the man, calling for him to wait.  The gentleman ducked into a closed door and my father followed.  A few minutes later, he emerged, smiling, with the program in his hand.  Scribbled across the top in a cursive font I was just that year able to read was: 'To John, Peace.  -Ernie Banks.'
--John White, Orlando, Fla.

Generational bond
My first big league game was August 11, 1982. The Detroit Tigers were playing the New York Yankees in Tiger Stadium, and I was 11 years old. My strongest memory of that day was walking through Tiger Stadium, and at first seeing glimpses of the island of green in the concrete and steel building, and then seeing the grass full on, with the sunlight splashed on the entire field. I can still see it in my mind even now. I sat with my Grandpa who actually saw Ty Cobb play in 1926 at that same stadium. The game was incredible, going 12 innings with the Tigers coming out on top 3-2. I fell in love with baseball that day, and even though my Grandpa isn't doing so well, we still enjoy sitting and watching a game together.
--William Johnson, Bath, Mich.

Nothing like Tiger Stadium
The first major league baseball game that I attended was a family outing to Tiger Stadium on the corner of Michigan and Trumbell in Detroit. It must have been 1989/90 and the Tigers were hosting the Seattle Mariners. Randy Johnson vs. Jack Morris was the pitching dual and my biggest memory from that night would have to be the smell of the grass and the way the field looked so perfect. I remember many games at Tiger Stadium, too many to recall them all, from Cecil Fielder hitting monstrous homers that never seemed to land, seeing Sweet Lou and Tram turning the smoothest double plays ever to hanging out by the dugouts pre and post game trying to get a major leaguer to autograph a program or a ball. Although Detroit's new park, Comerica is "state-of-the-art", it doesn't come close to watching a game at the old Tiger Stadium.
--Brian Wardell, Flower Mound, Texas

A special moment for Christopher
My first game was in 1964 at Shea Stadium. Joe Christopher, then one of the better Mets players, autographed my Rawlings glove. That was extra special, as my first name is Christopher, so I was a big fan of his. I retired the glove, not wanting to scrape it up in little league play. I still have it.
--Christopher Scott, Edgartown, Mass.

Giant occasion
My first game was last year, in 2004. I was 13. It was a time when the Giants were remembering the 1954 Giants, who had won the team’s last championship fifty years before. My Grandpa, Herman Franks, who was an ex-coach of the Giants was coaching third base when they won the series. So he invited out our family to go watch the game that night at the stadium. Since my Grandpa was 90 years old at the time, we rode out on the field with him and got to sit in the San Francisco dugout. The "Say Hey Kid,” Willie Mays, was sitting there talking to my Grandpa about the old days, so he and I got a picture together. When the game started, I was so excited. When Bonds came to the plate I got my hopes up, but I knew in the back of my head that this would be the at-bat where Barry went yard. Low and behold Barry knocked one right into McCovey Cove. I will never forget that night as long as I live.
--Danny Franks, Salt Lake City

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Bittersweet beginning
My first ever big league baseball game came on 'bat day' at Jarry Park against the Atlanta Braves in the Montreal Expos' debut season in 1969.  My dad took both me (9 years old) and my brother (7 years old).  It was truly magical.  That was in the days when the whole city had a love affair with the franchise, and even a torrential downpour couldn't dampen our spirits.  It is bittersweet to read of the triumphant home opener of the Washington Nationals and the sheer exhilaration of their fans.  "Nos amours," "our beloved" Expos are no longer.  Neither is my dad who so loved the game of baseball, and who imparted that love to his kids.  I suspect that the hole in my baseball heart will never be filled!
--Irving Salzman, Livingston, N.J.

Philly fanatic
My first baseball game was in 1959 at Connie Mack Stadium.  I don't recall who the Phillies played that day, but I vividly remember two things.  Sitting next to my dad and watching Dave Philly hit a home run just moments after I urged him on with my popcorn bullhorn.  If memory serves me right, he hit it over the right centerfield wall by the scoreboard.  I cried the day they tore the Connie Mack down after building the hideous Vet.  Baseball has never the same again in Philadelphia.
--Ervin Deck, Wiscasset, Maine

Holy cow!
My first major league game was at Wrigley Field in 1990 when I was five years old. I skipped a day of kindergarten to go. I don't particularly remember who the Cubs were playing or if they even won. I do, however, remember the 7th inning stretch.  My dad hoisted me up onto his shoulders and we walked towards the broadcast booth to listen to Harry Caray sing. I was completely in awe. I had seen this event so many times on TV, heard it on the radio, but seeing Harry hang out of the booth waving his microphone in the air had me in tears, even at five years old.
--Rachel Rodriguez, Fort Atkinson, Wis.

Loving the Rocket
I went to my first big league game July 10, 2003, it was Yankees vs. Indians in Cleveland. If I remember correctly, The Yankees lost 3-2 but at least I got to see my most favorite player ever pitch: Roger Clemens. I think the Yankees would have won if Alfonso Soriano hadn't been picked off twice. It was really disappointing, but still I had a lot of fun in spite of the loss.
--Mary, New York

'Let's go Red Sox!'
I don't remember much about the game action that day, but my very first Major League game was in May of 1967 at Fenway Park. And yes, it was the Yankees in town to play the Red Sox. My Dad and I were seated on the first base side, just past the dugout about halfway up. The thing I remember most about that day is me as a seven year old, with a popcorn box shaped like a megaphone. I ate every kernel of popcorn and then proceeded to march up and down the aisle (not too far away from Dad's watching eyes) while chanting through the megaphone box "Go Red Sox!" I had the attention of all within earshot. To this day, I remember that quite vividly as the sunniest, greenest place I had ever seen.
--Dave Bean, Los Angeles, Calif.

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