When It Was A Game have been a fan of the game of baseball for 25 years. I played little league baseball for Ocean View Little League in Huntington Beach, California in the early 1980 s, and four years of high school baseball at Ocean View High in the late 80 s to the early 90 s. Baseball has been an intricate part of my life ever since. While thumbing through a box in my garage the other day, I came across my old little league year book from 1984.
Seeing myself in a baseball uniform at 10 years old was quite amusing. I flipped through the rest of the book, laughing at the way my family and friends dressed in the 80 s. I was reminded of a quote my grandmother used to say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” My grandmother is a huge baseball fan. My grandmother grew up in South Central Los Angeles and used to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers play throughout the 60 s, 70 s, and 80 s. I distinctly remember my grandmother and I watching Kirk Gibson hit the game winning home run for the Dodgers against the Oakland A’s in the 1988 Word Series.
She is a huge Dodger fan, however, since I played on the A’s in little league that year, I rooted for the A’s. To this day, my grandmother will not pass up an opportunity to remind me of who won that game. My grandmother said to me the other day, “They don’t make them like they used to”; she was referring to the 1988 Dodger team, as opposed to the teams of today. I think she has a point to an extent; however, I can see the similarities and the differences in the game of the 80 s and the sport it has become in the new millennium. The game has changed in some ways, but for the most part, it has stayed the same. The rules are the same as in the 80 s.
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It is still 90 feet to first base, 60 foot 6 inches from the pitchers mound to home plate, and you still only get three strikes and four balls. Today, you can still go to the ballpark and get a soda, peanuts, Cracker Jacks, cotton candy, and a hot dog, just like when I was a kid in the 80’s. You can still go to the game early and see the teams take batting practice, and if your lucky, get an autograph or two. Today when I enter the stadium, if I go early enough, the smell of fresh cut grass fills my nostrils, as it did when I was 14.
The fans of today’s game are still very loyal to their teams. In the 1980 s, I can remember sitting next to Dodger fans who had been attending games for 60 years. I went to a game last week and sat next to a Dodger fan who was 80 years old, and had been going to the games for 75 years. One thing that has not changed since the 80 s is the Dodgers radio announcer Vin Scully. I grew up listening to Vin broadcast the games on the radio, his voice is classic. Sometimes when I am watching a game on television, I turn the volume down and turn the radio on so I can hear Vin call the games.
He is still broadcasting Dodgers games today, as well as other games around the country. Although I see many similarities between baseball in the 80 s and now, I also see many differences. Since the 1980 s, nearly every team has either changed stadiums, or built a brand new, state-of the-art baseball facility. Gone are the days of sitting on metal bleachers. Now some of the stadiums have leather movie- theater style seats. You can still get a soda, hot dog and peanuts; however, these will cost you about $15.
00 as opposed to $5. 00 in the 80 s. In 1980, you could go to a baseball game for $1. 25 today, a seat in the outfield section will cost you about $10. 00. Back in the 80 s when I played the game as a child almost every day, neither my favorite players nor I wore batting gloves.
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Some people say you get a better feel for the ball without gloves. Now, not only does every player wear gloves, they also have wrist bands, elbow pads, and knee and ankle braces. Some of them have so much extra stuff on; the player looks like he is going into battle. A major difference between baseball in the 80 s and now, also, is the players’s al aries.
Back in 1980, the average salary of a professional baseball player was fifty thousand dollars a year. Currently, the average is over a million dollars. In the 80 s, most baseball players played the game because they loved it and worked like everyone else to support their families. Today, most of the players look at the game as a job, and nothing more but a means to pay off the Lamborghini and the mansion in the hills. Another difference between the 80 s player, and the one of today is size. Today, the players are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before.
The average player weight and height in 1985 was 5 foot 9 inches and 150 pounds, today the average height and weight is 6 foot 1 inch and 220 pounds, which is a huge difference. I have only mentioned some of the contrast / similarities between the game I played and watched in the 80 s and the sport it has evolved into today. I think the game was more pure in the 80 s as opposed to now. Today, because of the amount of money that is involved; I see baseball as a sport, and no longer as a game. I will forever be partial to the type of baseball that was played in the 80 s, when winning was not the most important thing and having fun was the bottom line. Now…