Tonight, we watched Angels in the Outfield, the 1994 movie about a horrible baseball team finding help from a foster kid who prayed for the team to have angels join them on the field.
I forgot until watching it tonight that baseball bed sheets that the kids have halfway through the movie were the exact same ones that I had on my bed when the movie came out. As a nine-year-old, that is pretty exciting stuff.
That memory brought back so many memories about my love of baseball as a kid. I never played or even owned a ball, but I was hooked. I can only remember going to the movies once with my dad to see Rookie of the Year when I was eight. I used to go to the flea market on Saturday morning to buy and trade baseball cards with my sister. I had a strong love for the Texas Rangers, especially Nolan Ryan. I had a Mickey Mantle rookie card. I had baseball bed sheets for crying out loud!
Then August 1994 happened. The Strike.
I forgot how much that impacted my childhood. Even though the Rangers weren’t actually good that year—though I didn’t realize that as a kid—they were still leading the AL West. We were looking good to realistically make the playoffs for the first time!
The strike killed the rest of the season and cancelled the World Series for the only time since 1904. The politics of the strike led to replacement players being called up for the 1995 season, which led to more problems. In the end, the strike lasted over 230 days and also shortened the 1995 season.
It killed the game for me. I kept the baseball cards on a shelf for long time before getting rid of them somehow (if I was thinking, I would have given them to my sister since she did virtually everything to help me build the collection, but I don’t remember where they ended up). I kept the Mantle card for longer, but I don’t know where it ended up now (which I’m pretty bothered by to be honest).
Except for a couple of field trips to watch the television broadcast of Rangers games and a game with a friend who still had the fever, I don’t know that I watched a baseball game for a solid 10 years after the strike.
Having kids who are getting into baseball reminded me of a lot of a good memories before 1994. I never played, but seeing them play and coaching their teams, I fell head over heels in love again.
I remember a bit that I was a Rangers fan and I’m not supposed to like the Astros. Seeing the stunts that Minor League teams pull excites me again. I’m still wary of MLB, but I’m getting there.
I hope I’m able to keep my kiddos excited for the game itself so no matter what a couple hundred of players and owners decide to do in the future, they won’t walk away as long as I have.