When I was a kid, I used to listen to almost every Milwaukee Brewer game on the radio. I was obsessed with the sport, the players, the statistics, and generally every nuance of the game. It was so bad that I kept my own statistics on every player through the season so I could add it to the year before’s statistics of every player. My math had to be perfect so I would check and double-check my stats on those rare days when they didn’t have a game. When I couldn’t listen to a game for one reason or another, I would anxiously get my stats from the newspaper the next day. I say anxious because I always worried the newspaper would get something wrong and screw up all my work.
Anyway, one day I was listening to the game and it was either Briggs or May that hit a second home run in the same game. Of course, nowadays that’s nothing special, but back before rumors of a juiced ball or steroids, a two home run game was a big deal. The radio announcer said it was that player’s first game with more than a single home run. That didn’t feel right to me, so I checked my stats for that player and found out he had done it before when he was with another team (yes, I was that meticulous). For some reason, it bothered me so much that I took my radio and my stat papers and went to the phone…remember, phone’s were attached to a wall back then…and made a call. After about 5 minutes, I was connected to somebody I could talk to. They checked my stat and agreed that they made a mistake. We said goodbye and I took my radio and stat papers and went back to my room. I did my job, I just hoped they did their’s.
A couple minutes later the radio guys brought it up:
SPORTS GUY #1: We received a phone call from 10-year-old Dazeodrew from Milwaukee that corrected a statistic we reported about the two home run game.
SPORTS GUY #2: Oh yeah? 10 years old?
SPORTS GUY #1: Yeah. We incorrectly reported it was his first time doing this, but he actually did it a couple years ago for the first time.
SPORTS GUY #2: It took a 10-year-old boy to discover this? We should hire him! Fire the whole lot of stat checkers we already have!
I was so proud! I had done something I thought no other 10 year old had ever done! I corrected grown-ups! I was now a force to be reckoned with! Of course, this was a fleeting feeling because the radio guys kept talking.
SPORTS GUY #1: We may as well hire him. If he’s that into stats, what kind of life is he going to have? He’s certainly never going to get a girlfriend!
SPORTS GUY #2: Ha, ha, you’re right! That’s probably why he does stats! He’s a pathetic little lonely boy with no friends because he’s such a little Poindexter!
SPORTS GUY #1: That’s right! We should hire him just to give him a life!
SPORTS GUY #1 AND #2: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!
Ok, that second part didn’t happen. It could’ve, but it didn’t. Sometimes I certainly felt that way. I was the smallest kid in my class and only had a couple of friends. Some of that was because we moved around a bit before that point and I was on my 4th school by age ten, but the fact remained, I was a bit of a nerd. I got perfect grades, I could read adult books, and my math skills were way beyond grade school level. I guess that would make me a full-fledged nerd at the time. The only thing I didn’t have was a thick set of glasses…or even a thin set.
My baseball sickness went even further than what I’ve already told you. Much further.
I used to go into my backyard with a little souvenir bat I once got at a game and a couple of ping pong balls. I would stand on the sidewalk facing the clothesline poles and hit the ball. Anything not in the confines of the poles on either side was an out. Under the poles was a single unless the ball dribbled past the second pole, then it was a double. Hitting the second pole was a triple (didn’t get too many of those) and hitting it over both sets of poles was a home run. I would do this by myself and would play a complete nine-inning game if I could, batting for both sides. The sickness came in because of the fact that I kept complete statistics for the game and compiled all of them, complete with league standings, at the end of every day. Except, of course, if I had a rainout.
In a way, I had already created a fantasy baseball league before that was even a thing. I did the same thing during football and basketball seasons but played a little different with each sport. With football, I used playing cards because let’s face it, there is no way to play football by yourself. For basketball, my dad had put a small hoop up in the basement for me and I would play with a six-inch rubber ball and, yes, I would keep stats sometimes. Mostly I just played with my imagination.
ME (talking to myself in an announcer’s voice): And Dazeodrew gets the pass, fakes left and then fakes right before driving down the lane and SLAMS IT HOME! Wait, was he fouled on the play? Yes, yes he was! Now Dazeodrew will go to the line and try to convert a three-point play! What a game Dazeodrew is having!
ME (now talking in my own voice): What am I doing? I feel like a pathetic little lonely boy with no friends because I’m such a little Poindexter! I don’t really want a girlfriend just yet, but I might someday! I need to change. I need a life…
ME (back to the announcer voice): After a brief injury timeout, Dazeodrew is back in the game! What heart! What spirit! Dazeodrew is what the game is all about! Watch as he sinks this long jumper! Ok, but at least he got the rebound and put it in!
Sometimes, I still feel like that nerd of long ago. I no longer keep stats, other than basic ones in my head, but I still play good basketball in my dreams when I go to sleep. In my dreams, my 5’8” body is perfectly capable of dunking the ball. In real life, I would probably trip on my way to the basket. Even if I did reach the basket, at my age I would need to do a little stretching before I jumped my whole vertical leap of about 6 inches, leaving me a good 2 feet short of the rim…