My father was a recreational league baseball player. He was a pitcher back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and he absolutely loved baseball. Frankly, he taught me everything I ever knew about baseball until I got to high school, and everything I learned later was stuff I already knew, because he was that big of a baseball fan.
He was an absolute Jackie Robinson fan, and that’s where the story started. It was all about Jackie Robinson.
Jackie Robinson was playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers and all of his mates were the Brooklyn Dodgers. Those were the guys that he was a huge fan of. Because they were contemporaries, age-wise.
He was a big fan of Jackie Robinson in particular because of what Jackie Robinson went through to get to Major League Baseball. Now, he was a Satchel Paige fan; he was a Josh Gibson fan. And all the guys who played in the Negro Leagues. But he was really a huge Jackie Robinson fan.
Every Saturday, when I was coming up, we would sit there and watch Saturday afternoon baseball. And a lot of times it would be watching him. But our favorite time was watching the Dodgers play, and anytime Jackie Robinson played, we watched. Anytime his game was available on the radio, we listened.
I never had a chance to go to Dodgers games and only had the rare chance to go to any kind of game with him, because he worked hard all the time. It might have been better, anyway, to sit and watch a game with him in the living room, or listen to it on the radio, because he was a better commentator than most of the people who were on the TV or radio.
He knew that Jackie Robinson was someone special, but he knew the Dodgers were doing something special, too, with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, and some of the other guys that were on that team. And he showed me the greatest appreciation ever for baseball through the Dodgers — the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers experience — much of which took place before I was born and when I was very, very young. But it was enduring.
And so, ever since then, I’ve always been a huge Dodgers fan. And don’t get me wrong — I live here in this area, and I’m a Nats fan, and I go to Nats games, and have tickets and all that. But my heart’s with the Los Angeles Dodgers because of that experience.