When did your love affair with sports begin? What was the moment you started to pay attention? When you began to alter your daily schedule according to the television schedule? When the sports section of the newspaper took on a dog-eared appearance every day? Did you experience a courtship? Or did one single moment change everything?
For me 1972 comes to mind. I was seven.
Being the youngest of six children and having two older brothers, sports played a part in my daily life. We grew up in the minor league haven known as Rochester. I attended my first Rochester Red Wings game at the age of three. I have zero recollection of that game’s events, but I still have the batting helmet from the night’s giveaway. In 1970 Bobby Orr led the Bruins to the Cup. Two years later they repeated. These images swirl in my mind but never really take hold. I could sense at that young age the thrill of sports.
A few months after Johnny Bucyck hoisted the Cup, the 1972 Munich Olympics took place. Mark Spitz won seven gold medals. David Wottle donned a golf cap and won the 800 metre run. And terrorists stormed the Olympic village. Those images stick in my craw.
I remember wanting to be the next David Wottle. I remember trying to simulate swimming workouts in our backyard, circular pool. I remember staring at the images of hooded men holding guns.
Suddenly, regular television didn’t matter any more. I was hooked on sports. I still watched Bugs Bunny and Bullwinkle and Rocky, but the box scores were now on my lap for perusal during the commercials. Mel Allen and This Week In Baseball became a staple in my routine. I found an old radio laying around the house and put it on the night stand, so I could go to sleep at night listening to whatever sporting event was broadcast.
The following year, 1973, Jim Fuller with his mutton chops (thank heavens that look vanished before I could grow facial hair) slugged 39 round-trippers for the Red Wings. The Mets brought ‘Say Hey’ back to New York (I loved the ’73 Mets). O.J. (two decades before the white Bronco) rushed for 2,003. The Rochester Lancers played in the NASL. And I couldn’t get enough of sports.