It was around this time last year that I used something written by NBC columnist Joe Posnanski as inspiration for a column and I think I’ll do it again.
© Compass file photo
Compass reporter/photographer Nicholas Mercer.
This inspiration comes from a book Posnanski wrote on the 1975 Cincinnati Reds called ‘The Machine.’
Somewhere towards the end of the book, Joe writes ‘sometimes it seems to me we all just want baseball to forever feel like it does when we are eight years old.’
When he was eight years old, players like Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench lorded over his childhood.
It was in part why he chose to write the book.
When reading the words above, I started thinking that statement not only applies to baseball, but to any sport that you grew up watching.
There are always those teams that captured you’re attention as a youngster.
Their players were larger than life and took on another form in your imagination.
Whether you were playing road hockey in the driveway or a game of sandlot baseball, you placed yourself in their shoes.
You became them. If Doug Gilmour scored a wraparound goal, you had to try one or if Dave Stieb threw a curveball, you had to throw one.
That’s just the way it is.
When you’re a kid, sports teams take on a different life. They mean a little something extra.
It’s why you cried when you’re favourite team were eliminated from the playoffs. It’s why you pondered switching teams because your favourite player was traded to a new one.
They become more than just teams.
For me, one team come to mind. Coincidentally, the team hailed from the City of Toronto and was rolling at the time.
In October 1992, I was nine years old and soon turning 10. The Blue Jays were on the verge of clinching their first World Series and ball games were becoming a regular part of the after school gameplan.
It should come as no surprise the Blue Jays were larger than life in my eyes. As one of two Canadian entries in the MLB, the team captured the imagination of the country.
But, there was something else. I suspect it has to do with my exposure level to the game itself. My memory is hazy around that age, but 1992 stands out.
From Roberto Alomar’s homerun in the American League Championship Series against the Oakland Athletics to Kelly Gruber’s tag of Deion Sanders in Game 3 of the World Series.
These memories pop. They mean more to me than any moment in the recent history of the Blue Jays.
It’s not just because they are great memories, but they come at a time when I was starting to form my own sports identity.
That team was an important part of my childhood.
Joe Carter crushed every ball thrown to him and Alomar routinely went into the hole to rob someone of a base hit.
Every one has that one team. Not just a certain team.
I mean a particular team from a particular time period. If you don’t you’re lying.
Something like the 1991 Chicago Bulls or the 1993 Montreal Canadiens. Maybe it’s a recent team like the 2004 Boston Red Sox.
You remember the players and the moments. As a kid, that team was your life.
They’re that one team that made sports more than a game.
They made it a piece of you.
— Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with The Compass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.