From Camille Minichino
You know me—I'm the one who protests against organized sports. In my Utopia, science teachers are revered more than (name an athlete, any athlete) and no one is actually paid to play a game.
I'm hardly recognizable as the same woman who nearly let the tides of professional baseball determine her choice of college. But following the Boston Braves out west was my only positive thought on the gray day when the headlines announced that my team was leaving Boston and heading to Milwaukee, a city I'd never heard of.
Let me point out that all my school books were covered in newspaper photos of the Braves. Tommy Holmes, Earl Torgeson, Walker Cooper, Sam Jethroe, Bob Elliot. And don't forget the starting pitchers, all 2 of them: Spahn, Sain, and pray for rain.
My bedroom walls were covered with baseball--the official chart of National League logos, autographed programs, and laminated ticket stubs. My father, an unskilled laborer, had lost a thumb to an electric saw one day, and filled the lost time in construction by working the concessions at Braves Field and Fenway Park. I got to see both the '46 and '48 World Series!
Until the Braves left, no team had moved from one city to another, at least not in my teen lifetime. For several months, between the announcement and the actual move, I was in denial. So what if Lou Perini was losing money and Tom Yawkey (the stinkin' Red Sox owner) wouldn't share Fenway Park. Baseball is a sport, a game; no one has to make money on it, I cried.
Okay, I can hear your LOLs, but I was a kid, and not nearly as in-the-know as kids are today.
I'd used the Braves to direct the rest of my life, too. I was too shy to talk much in school, but I had all the confidence in the world opening with, "Did you see that third inning catch last night?" or "Who does that umpire think he is, calling a walk?" In other words: Don't think I expect you to notice me or acknowledge me. I'm just here as a messenger for the Braves. How could I face life without the Braves? Without a way to talk to other kids?
"I guess now you'll have to be a Red Sox fan." This from classmates who didn't understand that existence is not like a baserunner, sprinting from one anchored sack to the next, around to home; it's like a whisper of wind under a fastball, waiting to be named by the umpire.
"They ain't nothing 'til I calls them," says the umpire.
Eventually, I let the Braves go west. I did even more than that—I let all of baseball go west and never followed it again.
The last remnants of my life as a FanGirl are shown in the photo above: A signed Warren Spahn photo and a Braves cap.
From time to time through the years, I've watched baseball games out of the corner of my eye and sometimes allowed the cheers of the crowd and the crack of the bat to carry me back to the old Philco. When friends hear the story of "my life as a Braves fan" they mistakenly think it would take little to turn me into a twenty-first century fan.
But you can never undo an AHA moment: Baseball is a business, not a sport. It's for themselves—the owners, the managers, the players—it's their business. They're not doing it for me.
Besides, I found I can speak for myself now.