After a summer working in Chicago and attending several Cubs games in fabled Wrigley Field, I almost became one of those die-hard Cub fans. But no, those deep-rooted team loyalties get started early and seem to last forever. My story goes back a long way, back to the time our family got its first radio. It was the year before I started to school, so you see we're really talking ancient history.
This strange, battery-powered box had a switch to turn it on. There were a couple of dials and two sets of ear-phones -- no speaker, just ear-phones. My mother's brother was a veterinarian in Illinois. When he up-graded his first radio to one with a speaker, he sent his old one to us. I guess that was because we were what you might call the "poor relations." It arrived in September of 1926, just in time for the World Series. Now that was back when things were done right. No interminable play-offs, no night games (baseball, after all, was invented to be played in the afternoon sun !) On still-balmy September afternoons the team with the best record in the National League "duked" it out with its counterpart in the American League, and that was that.
One Sunday afternoon that September we went to visit a neighbor family. They, too, had a new radio. We kids were told to play outside while our mothers visited quietly in the kitchen so no one would disturb the men-folks who were equipped with those mysterious headphones. I was only 5-years-old so I knew nothing about the outcome of that match except that it resulted in the deciding game being played the next afternoon.
It was a beautiful Monday so there was no way Dad could find an excuse to neglect his fall plowing to listen to it. Instead, he enlisted me as the next best alternative. He showed me how to adjust the dials, fixed the headgear to fit me, and I was all set. I can still feel the sense of grown-up responsibility that enveloped me. I'm sure I didn't know enough about the game to give it my complete attention, and I do remember taking occasional cookie breaks, after checking with Mother that it was OK. But I will never forget my exhilaration when the game ended with a St. Louis victory. Then it was my proud mission to run to the field with the good news my Dad was hoping to hear.
As I look back, I wonder why my father was such a Cardinals fan. There must have been some good reason, but if I knew it, I've forgotten. He had played baseball as a young man, but that's another story. It all just leaves me marveling at the way such loyalties are established and how they endure.
One more thing - I was almost certain my memory was accurate; still, I thought I'd best check it out. My kids would have said, "Just 'Google' World Series, Mom." Instead, (further proof of my age and stage) I looked it up in the encyclopedias we've had around for decades, and there was the proof I needed. "St. Louis (NL) won the championship over New York (AL) in 1926." I'm afraid I am never going to adapt completely to this Technical Age, and I suspect, too, that I'll go to my grave a St. Louis Cardinals fan.