Val, thank you, we really appreciate it here at BYB! -Casey
My first memories are from probably 1968. I was enthralled by guys like Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter, Sal Bando, Gene Tenace, and Bert Campaneris.
Of course we all loved Reggie! Born in Oakland, raised in Fremont, for us, it was all about the A's. I have been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember, and I never expected to love another team like I loved my A's. Even after we left California, my team was still the A's.
We left California in early 1972, but how loudly and proudly I cheered for them in 1972, 1973 and 1974! Yep, I was cocky.
Nothing changed for me baseball-wise over the next 5 to 6 years. I would ALWAYS be an A's fan... or so I thought. I remember when Billy Martin defected back to the Yankees in 1983.
We felt like our family had been punched! It would have been okay for him to manage any other team, but the Yankees? Now, I know Billy loved baseball as much as we do, and he was blessed to do it for a living, so I hated him a little less for that. My mother never got over her hatred of the Yankees though...or Billy Martin. Ironically, because both Bobby Murcer and Mickey Mantle were from her home town, and she loved them, yet, she hated that they played for the New York Yankees.
As young adult, I continued to cheer for my A's. I never thought anything would change that. In 1983, I had my son Leo. Still an A's fan, but his birth would change my life.
Significantly disabled, we didn't know if he would "catch up" developmentally, or just see the gap between where he was, and where boys his age were just widen. It widened, and significantly. It never mattered to us, but issues of disability became more important to us as we raised Leo.
In the early 90's when Milwaukee was still in the American League, we went to see them play the Yankees at Old County Stadium in Milwaukee. I was living in Iowa at the time, so it was a short road trip. I wasn't a Brewers fan, but I was, and remain to this day, a fan of baseball! Of course, as a life-long A's fan, I had come to hate the Yankees, so I was cheering for the Brewers. But all that changed when we got in our amazing seats, and I thought something was wrong with my glasses. I asked my husband "Is their pitcher missing part of his arm?"
I was shocked, but also very touched that a Major League Baseball would take a chance on a guy with an obvious disadvantage, let alone a team like the New York Yankees, who, at the time, I was sure were the Satans of baseball. It was after that game, and when it had all sunk in well that I began to love the Yankees, and that has never changed since. Yes, I know Jim Abbott didn't have the long career of many pitchers, but he was, and continues to be a great role model for any kid with a disability who has goals.
I live in the middle of nowhere right now. A year ago, I lived in Iowa, and were kind of central to Minneapolis, Chicago, and Kansas City, so we could go see the Yankees whenever they were close. I forced my family to take me to New York City in 2008 for our family vacation because I had to see old Yankee Stadium before it closed. It was surreal for me and I really could not believe I was there! It didn't matter that the Yankees lost to the then last place Orioles. I sat about 18 rows up, just between home plate and the Yankees dugout, and watched it all happen. It made me entire trip! I watch every game still to this day, including pre-season.
I can't hate the A's, and as long as their play doesn't impact my Yankees standings, I wish them well. But in the end? I want my Yankees to be the AL team in the World Series... all because of Jim Abbott!
--Valerie Snow, Guest BYB Writer
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