This past Monday, I turned the ripe ol’ age of 29. And it is funny that people ask me if I feel old. Well, no. Turning 29 doesn’t make me feel old. Balding makes me feel old. And the hair that does grow seems to be turning a lot lighter than it used to be. The fact that I can’t play sports anymore because the aches and pains don’t go away for a loooooong time makes me feel old.
But 29 isn’t old to me. My wife is almost exactly 6 months younger than me….so we pretty much have the same timeline of past experiences. Most of my friends are in their mid-30s. People I talk to on the computer are mainly 10-20 years older than me. So, I still feel sprite, thank you very much!!
So, being 29.…then I am a child of the 80s. And my sports heroes were players of the 80s. Magic Johnson. James Worthy. Eric Davis. Art Monk. Laugh all you want…but I had a Dexter Manley poster in my bedroom. And, no, I doubt he could have read his name on there.
When I learned how to play basketball….I copied Magic Johnson. I loved making those sweet passes. In football, I wanted to be John Riggins on offense and Darrell Green on defense. My batting stance in baseball was patterned after Dale Murphy on the right side and Will Clark on the left.
When I grew up…I assumed there were no gray road baseball uniforms. They were powder blue. I mean…why was that?? Why gray from 1900-1980.…then blue in the 80s…and then gray ever since? The Phillies, Cardinals, Jays, Expos, Braves, Brewers, Royals and Mariners all sported that look. The cookie cutter stadiums. Atlanta, Cincinnati and Houston in the NL West….and St. Louis and Chicago in the NL East.
The NHL was merely 21 teams…and only FIVE didn’t make the playoffs. And those Stanley Cup playoff had division foes battle the first two rounds. I still don’t understand why they were the Smythe, Patrick, Adams and Norris divisions.
There were teams called the Bullets, Oilers, Whalers, Nordiques, Jets and North Stars. There were California Angels, Baltimore Colts, LA Rams, LA Raiders, St. Louis Cardinals football, St. John’s Redmen and Oakland A’s.
I remembered that the Yankees used to suck. The Celtics used to be great. I remember the Bluebonnet and All American Bowls. NBA players wore those tiny shorts….and MJ wore necklaces. Final Fours used to be held in arenas….not solely in domes. I remember that the Cubs, Red Sox and Tigers didn’t have player names on the uniforms. Boxing used to be on ABC…not PPV. The Orange Bowl was actually played in the Orange Bowl. I watched the Baseball Bunch with Johnny Bench and the San Diego Chicken every Saturday. This Week In Baseball [with Mel Allen] was THE show.
I remember when NFL and MLB teams shared stadiums…and NFL teams had to play in dirt in September. Fulton County, Jack Murphy, Riverfront, The Vet, Astrodome, Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Three Rivers, Anaheim and the Kingdome. Arizona was a sports wasteland. Florida State, Miami and Penn State were all football independents.
Yet, I still feel young. I don’t really remember a world without ESPN. I never knew the Brooklyn Dodgers or New York Giants. I never saw Hank Aaron play. As far as I know….he’s always had the home run record. There never was an AFL or ABA to me. I first knew Joe Namath, OJ Simpson and Bill Russell as sportscasters. I never saw a Vikings home game played outdoors. The Jets and Giants have pretty much always shared a stadium together. The “New Orleans Jazz” sounds funnier to me than the “Utah Jazz”. There has always been the DH and playoffs in baseball. I never really knew an NBA without the 3-point arc. The NIT has NEVER meant anything to me. There was a Pac-8 conference???