A Bum by Fluke

our radio looked a lot like this.

our radio looked a lot like this.

As most people who actually take time to sit and read the things I write know, I’m a Dodgers fan; have been since I was a little kid. Glen asked me a couple of times how, in a house and area full of Cardinals fans, I became a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. I’d like to say it was some kind of grand epiphany or a youthful show of wisdom. Well, it wasn’t. Actually it was something of a fluke.

When I was little my grandfather and I listened to baseball on a radio, either the one at home, or on weekends at the local barber shop. He was a diehard Cardinals fan who lived and died with the Cards and the stats of Stan Musial. I knew this and appreciated it, but something changed at World Series time. He began to root for the Dodgers. In 1952 he died a little when they lost to New York, then died a little more when they lost in 1953. He was up front about rooting for the Dodgers, so I figured it was OK too. I wasn’t quite sure why you changed teams at World Series time, but that was the way of the world, at least my little part of it. Because when you went to the barber shop at World Series time everyone was rooting for the Dodgers.

In 1954 the Giants went to the World Series along with the Indians. My grandfather listened and commented, but there was no real rooting going on. If the Indians won, fine; if the Giants won, better (it was a National League town). Then in 1955 we got a television. It was  small, black and white, the reception went in an out and I remember my grandfather standing outside holding the antenna pole while my grandmother would shout, “A little more to the right” until the picture cleared up. When World Series time came the Dodgers were back in and this time they won. There was rejoicing in my home and at the barber shop. And there was equal sadness when they lost again in 1956.

By then I was a dyed-in-the-wool Dodgers fan. Everyone seemed to think the Cardinals was the team to support, but the Dodgers were a close second. So I figured that “well, heck, if the Cardinals have number one support and the Dodgers are OK too, maybe someone should help out by making the Dodgers the number one team with the Cards in second place.” So I decided that would be me.

Then came 1957 and the Braves made the World Series. My grandfather rooted for them as hard as he’d rooted for the Dodgers. The guys at the barber shop rooted for them as hard as they’d rooted for the Dodgers. Something was wrong and it took a while to figure it out. The common denominator in all the World Series matchups, except the “who cares?” Series of 1954 was the New York Yankees. My grandfather and his cronies weren’t Dodgers fans at all; they hated the Yankees, and anyone playing the Yanks in the Series was to be supported. When the same thing happened in 1958 I was sure I was right.

But by then it was too late. I was a Dodgers fan with a willingness to root for St. Louis if necessary (sort of the opposite of my grandfather). So that, little children, is how a person from a Cardinals family and Cardinals town becomes a Dodgers fan. Maybe someday I’ll tell you why my son supports the Twins.

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9 Responses to “A Bum by Fluke”

  1. glenrussellslater Says:

    Nice piece about Americana, something that’s (sadly) going out of style. Hanging out at the barber shop and listening to the baseball game. Now, there are just McDonald’s and other fast food joints everywhere; America is becoming largely homogenized.

    When I saw the title at first, the first thing that popped into my mind was “The Brownsville Bum” (speaking of Brooklyn and “dem bums”, my cousin Al “Bummy” Davis, who hated boxing under the name “Bummy” but did what his promoter thought would draw the most people.

    As I said before, if you click on my “gravatar” thing, you’ll see the name of the book about Bummy that was written ten years ago.

    I enjoyed the piece, V. Thanks!

    Glen

  2. steve Says:

    One mystery solved and a new one born; your son and him being a Twins fan; hopefully to be delved into at a later date. Do you feel glad either way when the Cardinals playoff the Dodgers like in 1985 or more recently in 2013?

  3. The Baseball Bloggess Says:

    I loved this!

    So, was the Dodgers’ move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles no big deal for you then? My dad was living in Los Angeles in the late 1950s — so he became a Dodgers fan simply because he suddenly had a home team to root for.

    I always enjoy reading where team loyalties come from … and the ones that develop beyond home boundaries are always very special. 🙂

    (And, can’t wait to hear where the Twins come in for your son …)

    • verdun2 Says:

      Having no loyalty to the town of Brooklyn, it didn’t matter to me where the team played. I was loyal to the players and wherever they played was OK by me. Glad you liked the story.
      v

  4. wkkortas Says:

    I miss the days of baseball on 50,000-watt blowtorches. There’s just something about baseball on AM radio.

  5. Thom Hickey Says:

    Thanks for this charming memoir and so many interesting posts this year. I’m a Dodgers fan too! (You might like my tribute to Duke Snider on the immortal jukebox). Regards and seasons greetings Thom.

  6. Gary Trujillo Says:

    I understand completely. My hatred for the Yankees runs deep.

    This was awesome, v. We don’t get many “personal” posts from you. Unfortunately the radio thing happened before my time yet I still listen to old broadcasts on youtube and use my imagination until I travel back in time.

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