The Day I Missed History

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan posted a blog about missing history today.  This got me to thinking about the history that I’ve missed (all baseball related).  I’m not even that picky about being there in person, as long as I get to witness it live on TV. 


I’ve been fotunate enough to witness some great Yankee events:  Guidry’s 18 strikeouts against the Angels, the one-game playoff against the Red Sox in ’78, Graig Nettles’ incredible glove work in the ’78 World Series, the pine tar HR, the Jeffry Maier HR, Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter, the ’98 season, the Mr November game in 2001 (I was in The Stadium for that one), just to name a few. 


I’ve also missed a few great moments.  I have this uncanny knack for missing no-hitters even though I’ve watched 120-150 games per year every year for the last 30 years or so.  I missed Dave Righetti’s no-hitter because my parents made me go to a 4th of July BBQ at my cousin’s house (I didn’t want to miss the game since the Yankees were playing the Red Sox – and I really let my parents have it after I found out what I missed).  I missed Jim Abbott’s no-hitter (the only Saturday I had to work the entire year).  I missed the end of David Wells’ perfect game because I had to help my sister-in-law (I saw the first four innings).. Just to bring it all together, I missed David Cone’s perfect game because the same sister-in-law had a BBQ.  To make the Cone situation worse, he was supposed to pitch the day before against the Braves, but Torre pushed his start back a day.  Of course, I was at the game against the Braves that day.


There is one thing that I missed that bugs me more than all the others.  In October of 1977, I was 8 years old and in the third grade.  One day my school went on a class trip to the Newark Museum.  That morning when I got to school I felt a sharp pain in my side.  I figured it would pass so I got on the bus and went to the museum with my class, but the pain kept coming back.  Finally the pain was so bad that I had the teacher call my dad.  He came to the museum and picked me up. 


Since I was still in pain, he took me to the Emergency Room at the hospital.  The doctors ran some tests, hooked up an IV, and checked me into the hospital.  I was fed through the IV and ordered not to have any solid food.  I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this, but I am 100% Italian (mom and dad were literally right off the boat).  Italians live for food.  Breakfast is the only reason I get up in the morning, and lunch is the only reason I don’t just go back to sleep after I’ve had breakfast.  About an hour after they hooked up the IV, I was starving. 


I had this really nice nurse who came in and asked me if there was anything I needed.  I asked for food.  She told me that I was being fed through the IV.  I explained that it wasn’t nearly enough.  She turned up the drip (I think she doubled it, but I was still a little hungry).  I now felt that I had a friend there with whom I had established a good rapport.


That night the Yankees were playing the Dodgers in the World Series.  Game six.  Most Yankee fans know what happened, but here’s my version:  I was really excited about watching the Yankees clinch the World Series.  I was watching the game, knowing full well that my parents weren’t there to make me turn off the game and go to sleep.  Besides, it wasn’t like I needed to go to school the next day.  Reggie Jackson had hit two home runs.  In the bottom of the 7th Thurman Munson came up to the plate.  Reggie was on deck.  Suddenly and inexplicably, my TV turns off.  In a panic I started hitting my nurse’s button as if it were the fire button on one of the video games that I wouldn’t get for a few years.  The really nice nurse (remember her from the last paragraph?) came sprinting in as if I were dying and asked frantically, “What’s wrong?”


At this point I started screaming at the woman who I had just befriended a few hours earlier.  “MY TV WENT OFF!!!  I’M WATCHING THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!!  THE YANKEES HAVE A CHANCE TO CLINCH TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!  REGGIE ALREADY HIT TWO HOMERS AND HE’S ON DECK!!!!!!!!!!!!!  WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY TV?  WHY DID IT JUST TURN OFF?  HOW DO I GET IT BACK ON?”  Somehow I managed to get all of those words out of my mouth in less than 5 seconds. 


After being relieved that I wasn’t dying or in pain, the nurse tried to explain to me that I was in a pediatric room and they turn the TVs off at eleven.  In retrospect, I can’t believe that they even let me watch TV until eleven o’clock at age 8, but her response just sent me into another tirade.  “THE YANKEES ARE PLAYING!!!!!!!!!!!!  IT’S THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!  REGGIE HAS TWO HOMERS!!!!!!!!!!!!  ONLY BABE RUTH HAS HIT 3 IN A WORLD SERIES GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!  THEY CAN CLINCH TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!”


Finally, the nurse told me that she would ask the Head Nurse if they could turn my TV back on.  I sat and waited anxiously. About half an hour later she came back and told me that there was nothing that she could do.  I argued futily for a little while longer, and then went to sleep.  The next day I found out what had happened on the news. 


The doctors never did find out what was wrong with me.  The pain went away and hasn’t been back since.  I now feel badly about yelling at my nurse and scaring the heck out of her.  They say that time heals all wounds, but almost 32 years later I’m still bitter about missing that HR.  My daughter bought me the 1977 World Series on DVD for Christmas this year.  I haven’t brought myself to watch it yet, but maybe sharing the experience with her will make me feel better about the whole situation.


I just re-read this story.  I think I now know why my friends all refer to me as a “psychotic Yankee fan.”



  1. Jane Heller

    I love that story, pinstripe! (I’m glad they didn’t find anything wrong with you, btw. So that part had a happy ending.) Sorry you missed Reggie’s big game and the others. On our first date, my husband told me how he broke his ankle playing football when he was a little kid but refused to go to the hospital because he just KNEW Roger Maris would hit his 61st homer on the last day of the season. So his father let him watch and THEN took him to the ER. So many memories, but many still to come. Thanks for mentioning my post at the top.

  2. pinstripepride3

    Joe, oddly enough I somehow did catch the end of Lester’s no-hitter as well as Buchholz’ and Nomo’s. The weird part is that I’ve probably only watched 6 Red Sox games when they weren’t playing the Yankees over the last 20 years and three of them were no-hitters. A no-hitter is probably my favorite thing in baseball, so I was even happy for your Red Sox (how could anyone not be happy for Lester?). A no-hitter is really about the last out. The anticipation as the pitcher realizes what’s about to happen, and that moment of celebration when it does happen, so it’s better that you caught the end of those than the beginning. I watched Nolan Ryan lose a couple in the 9th, and of course I saw Mussina lose his in the 9th against the Red Sox. When I saw Gooden’s, I was hyperventilating through the 8th and 9th innings. When the game ended I was so excited that I went into our bedroom and woke up my wife to tell her. She didn’t share my enthusiasm…

    Jane, once again your husband and I are on the same page. My father never would have let me watch the game, though. Of course, if it were a soccer game and Italy were in the World Cup Finals, I’d probably have to wait for the game to end before he would take me to the hospital. I’m glad you loved the story. You’re welcome for mentioning your blog. I really enjoy reading it.

  3. joefromnewhampshire

    I caught the end of the Mussina game too. Just another example of how dominant he could be, which is why his Hall of Fame case has grown on me to the point where I would vote for him. He was borderline at first, but after research he is in, in my opinion. But I understand even pitchers that aren’t dominant year round can have a great game like Mussina, but in this case it helps to have seen (some of) near perfection, and dominance regardless.

  4. pinstripepride3

    I’m still on the fence with regards to Mussina being in the Hall of Fame, but he was consistently very good for a long time.

  5. jimmy27nyy

    Hey, pinstripepride3 …

    Great stories in your above post !!! … The highlights [from your post] I most remember watching “live” were: Guidry’s 18 strikeout game, on a T.V., on my front stairs, with my friends … Phil Rizzuto made each strikeout sound so exciting … Of course, the 1978 playoff game vs. the Red Sox, in a friends house with two Red Sox fans; two Mets fans; and, me, the only Yankee fan … I was the only one to leave the house “happy” on that great day in Yankees history … David Cone’s Perfect Game, on Yogi Berra Day at the Stadium, with Don Larsen throwing out the first pitch to Yogi before the game !!! … And, Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, when Reggie Jackson hit three homers in the game … A “classic” performance, and a “classic” call by Howard Cosell on ABC, on that last homerun into the centerfield bleachers !!! … I regret not seeing Dave Righetti’s no-hitter because the game was on MSG at the time, and we didn’t have Cable T.V. yet !!! … But, it’s great we can see all these games and highlights on “Yankee Classics” on the YES Network … And, if you haven’t seen the ESPN “Bronx is Burning” mini-series of the Yankees 1977 Championship season, yet, it is well worth getting the DVD-set of that great production, and time in Yankees history, as well as, some interesting events in NYC during that year !!! … Thanks for bringing back so many great Yankee memories in your above post !!! … That’s what makes being a Yankees fan so “awesome” — the great Yankees “Tradition” and “History” !!! ….. Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L” …..

  6. juliasrants

    I saw all of Lester’s no-hitter, was watching the Mother’s day come back in 2007 and I saw all the amazing comebacks in 2004. The best part about these games – we can see them over and over again and still get the same feeling inside. Thanks for making me think of all these great memories!


  7. pinstripepride3

    Jimmy, I can remember Guidry’s 18 Ks vividly. I turned the game on in the 4th inning after playing baseball with some friends and eating lunch. It was June 17th. I can now never forget that date because exactly 25 years later, my younger daughter was born. I watched the ’78 playoff game with my cousin who lived directly behind me. He was (and still is) a Red Sox fan. When I got home from school I went to his house. He was older and had cut his last couple of classes to see the whole game. The Yankees were down 1-0. The Red Sox scored another run, and I told him his house was bad luck. I convinced him to come to my house. Bucky hit his HR in the next inning and Munson drove in Rivers. After Reggie hit his HR in the 8th to put the Yankees up 5-2, my cousin insisted that we go back to his house. The Red Sox scored two more runs to make it 5-4 when I told him we had to go back to my house for the bottom of the 9th. That’s when Gossage held them off. Great game! Not only did I see the Bronx is Burning when it first aired, but I also have it on DVD. It was phenomenal. Well cast and well acted. The actor who played Munson was fantastic. He even sounded like Munson.

    Julia, baseball has the amazing ability to evoke strong emotions in fans. You are right about getting the same feeling inside, but somehow I think you and I would be getting different feelings while watching the 2004 comebacks. I know it was great for you Red Sox fans, but I have not yet come to grips with the 2004 ALCS. Maybe one day, but I doubt it since I’m still not over losing to the Dodgers in the ’81 World Series.

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