Washington baseball fans are understandably excited about the Nationals being in the World Series. It’s been a long drought. I grew up in Capitol Heights, MD about two blocks from the DC line. Of course, at the time I was a Washington Senators and Redskins fan.
In 1962 or 1963 (I can’t quite remember), my friends and I had an encounter with Jimmy Piersall. Most of you are too young to remember him. He spent 1962 and 1963 with the Senators. He was a good player, but crazy. We were silly-assed 12 or 13-year-olds (like I said I can’t quite remember) and loved attending games at DC Stadium.
The Washington Daily News had a nice deal for kids called The Knothole Club. We paid 25 cents for tickets to various games in the center field bleachers. That’s what was so great. Jimmy played center field, so it gave us a chance to be punk kids and heckling him was fun.
He is in the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame and probably did not have the statistics to be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, but his antics are legendary.
There is a movie, Fear Strikes Out, based on his career. It stars Anthony Perkins as Jimmy and Karl Malden as his father. It’s an old black and white film, but if you find it, it’s a good watch.
He once hit a home run and ran around the bases backward. Now, that’s funny. Then in a game when he was with the Cleveland Indians he ran back and forth in the outfield while Ted Williams was at-bat for the Red Sox. He was ejected. Then there was a game where he was so upset with the umpires that he went into the stands and heckled them relentlessly.
So, while we were at a game in the bleachers we harrassed him. I can’t quite remember the things we yelled at him, but he turned around and gave us the finger. Very cool to get the finger from a good player. But, we kept it up hoping to receive more insults we could talk about 50 years later.
We had two teams in Washington during my childhood, We had the Senators who had been there forever; eventually moving to become the Minnesota Twins, then the next Senators team left to become the Texas Rangers.
Even though I no longer live in the DC area, I salute the fans for their World Series team.
Bake My Fish