Favorite sports memories

Twice this week, I’ve seen things at baseball games that may end up being some of my favorite sports memories, ever. One was nothing historically significant; just a really well-pitched minor league game that ended with a walkoff home run. The other probably also holds no huge, big-picture significance, but it was good for a chuckle: Royals shortstop Tony Pena, Jr. pitching. Pitching really, really well.

Maybe these two games won’t stand the test of time; but some moments will be with me forever:

(In no particular order)

October 27, 2001: Nebraska v. Oklahoma (starring Eric Crouch)

In my family, one tradition we have is that each of us gets two Husker football tickets for our 13th birthday. I lucked into tickets to the Oklahoma game, so I went with my Dad. Sporting events had just resumed for the first time since September 11, and it was great to be back in the stands, but it felt different. We sat next to a loudmouth OU fan, and the game was a tight one. Then this play happened:

That’s quarterback Eric Crouch receiving the touchdown pass that basically sealed the victory for Nebraska. The OU fan next to us shut up, then quietly disappeared. I’ve been to some big Husker games since then, but the stadium has never felt as alive as it was for that play.

October 2004: Yankees/Red Sox ALCS

Partly because of my disdain for the Yankees (sorry to keep piling it on, Yanks fans! That’s just how I was raised!), and partly because I love seeing history happen, watching this series on TV will always be among my fondest baseball recollections. My mom and I watched each of the games together, even when it seemed like there was no way Boston had any shot at clawing out of the 3-0 deficit.  The Dave Roberts steal, Schilling’s bloody sock, these things are bits of legend that are so completely identifiable as part of a great – legendary, even – postseason, I probably didn’t need to link to their explanations. You didn’t need to click the links to know what I was talking about. Mom and I went to school and work exhausted that week; that many innings of edge-of-the-seat baseball will do that to anyone. I can’t imagine how gut-wrenching it felt for both Boston and New York fans.

The WS itself wasnt as fun for me as the ALCS. But still.

The WS itself wasn't as fun for me as the ALCS. But still.

April 2, 2007: Opening Day in Kansas City
This one involved Schilling, too, but did not serve as fodder for his Hall of Fame argument. In an interview with Royal Reflections a few months ago, I described the day thusly:

…It was the kind of day that makes people get that fond, faraway look in their eyes as they describe seeing the greenest grass they’ve ever seen, and feeling the most perfect sunshine they’ve ever felt, and all of that. April 2, 2007 was exactly like that for me. I went with two of my brothers and two of their friends, and the day could not have been more flawless. It was the first time I had seen Curt Schilling pitch in person, and my Royals flogged him. I had never seen Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz bat in person, and Royal pitching held them to a combined 1-for-7. Royals fans everywhere were anxious to see if Gil Meche was an ace, a waste, or somewhere in between, and he went a beautiful 7.1 innings with only one run given up. On that day, the Royals had a taste of success, and a share of first place that would disappear the next day. But that slice of non-loserdom was the most glorious day of my baseball life.

I suppose I have other favorites, like a high school football playoff game my Mom and I went to on a whim, which turned out to be one of the finest displays of defense I’ve seen at any level of football, and happened on a glorious warm autumn day. And any time I get to see Joakim Soria pitch in person…that’s about as badass as it gets.

What are your favorite sports memories?

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About Minda

I hail from Nebraska, and I like to take pictures. I love the Royals more than what the Surgeon General recommends (the recommendation, in case you need to know, is about 4.5 milligrams per day for persons of average height and weight).

11 thoughts on “Favorite sports memories

  1. So we are seriously hoping they convert Pena Jr to a pitcher. I mean, the boy can not hit, can not even bunt & was more effective pitching than half our bullpen! He struck Pudge out looking! And did you see him field that ball? He could win a gold glove as a pitcher!

    My favorite sports memory in person was game 6 of the ’92 World Series. I was a big Blue Jays fan back then – had been following them for about 5 years or so & my dad got tickets to that game through some business contacts. We were in the lower level behind home plate and got to see that amazing back & forth game between the Braves & Blue Jays – my heart was in my throat the entire game! It was really sweet to witness a world series celebration in person – too bad that was before they handed out the trophies on the field because my baseball boyfriend Pat Borders was the MVP!

  2. Thanks for the Pena clip. I didn’t know! What a beautiful hook he threw.

    I’m a Jays fan from day one of the franchise and while the first series win was really sweet I was out of town and missed the celebration. The next year, I’m hosting a watching party for the final game of the series. I remember it looking bleak at the top of the 9th, everyone was sure we had lost, and I just got a feeling that it was going to work out alright. And then the Carter homer, hitting the street and walking down to Skydome – absolutely amazing.

    My other favourite memory is one I can’t pin a date on but I’m pretty sure it was some time in 2003. I had been turned off the game after the ’94 strike. On that day, my brother persuaded me to come out with his family for a game. On the mound? Roy Halladay, pitching a no-hitter until it was broken up in the seventh. And that day, I fell back in love with the beauty of the game. Took me a couple of seasons after that to get back into full swing but now here I am, spending hours a day reading sports blogs.

    I actually got to meet Mr. Halladay last season and thanked him for rekindling my love for the game. And can I say, close up and out of uniform, the man is incredibly hot? Gorgeous smile. Beautiful eyes. I’m now obsessed. :)

  3. Monday Night Football. Jets at Bears. Overtime. Jmiss a field goal and the Bears march down the field. Cap Boso catches a pass from Jim Harbaugh in the end zone and comes up with about 1 square yard of sod stuck in his face mask. Mom and I rejoice. Wait a minute…the officials are calling the Jets back on the field. Instant replay says he was down on the 1 foot line. Confusion. Bears score on the next play to make it official.

    Also, I remember the day Eric Show beaned Andre Dawson. The Hawk was my Mom’s favorite player, and she was crying.

  4. Sometimes our greatest sports memories aren’t necessarily the most significant historically. In fact, some people may not even know it happened or care that it did (which is what Minda is talking about with a minor league game). My best memories so far of course involve hockey. And while I made it into the building for a Stanley Cup Finals game, I hardly remember anything about it. All I remember was the nervousness of buying tickets from a scalper and hoping I wasn’t getting ripped off. The games that (to this point in my life) have been the most memorable for me personally were actually in the earlier rounds of the same playoffs, which no one outside of fans of my team would give a shit about. I remember those two games much more vividly. The intensity, the passion, the nerves, everything. Those games both were crucial to a successful playoff run, but I think even so, they would stand alone as my best experiences at hockey games. It’s amazing the way any event, big or small, can have such a profound impact on you, and remind you why you love the game so much.

  5. My greatest sports memory? Easy. Hands down, it’s the first game the Mets played in after 9/11. I was in my first year of law school, and a group of us bought tix and went – never mind that we’d known each other a few weeks at that point. We all had a blast on our way there, but the memorable part def. came during the game. The intensity of the crowd was awesome. Seriously, there are no words to explain the passion that night. Not so much for the baseball game on the field, but for the back and forth going on in the stands. 55000+ of us screaming, cheering for “USA!!”, thousands of flags waving in the crisp night air – it was like the biggest pep rally ever. There were tears, as well, but it was a natural part of the night. Mike Piazza hitting a game-winning HR against the Braves was just icing on the cake. It was one of the most amazing nights of my life.

    Even watching it on TV now gives me goosebumps.

  6. So many of my best sports memories involve my family and Chicago, but funny enough, my very favorite one involves neither. It was when Ben Askren, 174 lb. wrestler from Mizzou, won his first national championship, and Missouri’s first ever wrestling championship. I hugged my friend and held back tears as we saw the seconds tick down. What a great moment-and for the record, Ben is now an Olympian, and we’ll see him wrestle in a few weeks!

  7. Watching the ’90 World Series is still one of my favorite sports memories. Every night my parents & I were glued to the TV. Nobody gave the Reds a chance against the A’s that series. I will never forget that last out (pop fly in the foul territory near 1st base) when they sealed the sweep as long as I live.

    The other was the 2002 NCAA Div. I-AA football playoffs watching my alma mater Western Kentucky win our first Nat’l Championship. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud in my life. We beat the number 3, 2 and 1 teams in the nation, in that order, to win it. I still get a little misty thinking about it.

  8. MK: That would have been awesome to celebrate in the streets after the Carter home run – I still can’t believe they won it that way! And I’m glad you fell back in love with the game.

    I had to rewatch my highlight video of the ’92 world series after posting my comment last night. My husband is so jealous that I got to go to a world series game! We’re just hoping the Royals make it again one day.

  9. So I went to bed early because the Royals were getting spanked but my sister told me the next day that Tony pitch! I freaked out and ran to YouTube and sure enough! Watching it makes me more happy than it probably should!

    I want Tony to start hitting so bad it hurts! He is an amazing defensive player and we really need him!

    Ugh, I remember that Nebraska play. Being a K-state fan I am sworn to hate both the Sooners and Huskers (as well as those filthy Jayhawks) But it depends on the year which team I have the second most (KU always being #1)! And I am pretty sure that year, I hated NU most. ;)

  10. Sorry, I’m a little late. (I was trapped in New England.)

    I was in the first or second row during the Stanford/Arizona basketball game with this crazy shot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP-NlPIVBsw. It gives me chills even watching it now, what a crazy moment! (Stanford beating USC and Cal last year are up there as well.)

    Also, the great Bulls teams of the 90′s bring back such a strong sense of nostalga. My dad and I always used to go. I remember the sticky popcorn smell of the old Chicago Stadium, how loud the crowd used to get, and how people couldn’t help but to cheer for Michael Jordan. He was that damn good.

    The final moment I’ll talk about was the crazy game with the Bears and Arizona a few years ago on Monday Night Football. I had turned the game off, because I hate to watch my teams lose, and had basically given up hope, until my friend texted me with something like, “Go Bears, beat Matt Leinart!” I turned on the game just to watch some more ridiculousness unfold. The Denny Green rant was icing on the cake.

    Didn’t mean to write a novel, but remembering all these things put a big smile on my face.

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