With apologies to Andy Williams, who sang the popular Christmas song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," I beg to differ. March, to me, has that honor with the NCAA men's basketball tournament and spring training games, signaling a dawn to another baseball season.
Often, when people learn where I am from and the teams I devotedly follow, they ask me one simple question. How did you become a fan of......? For those of you who have not read my profile in the About section of this blog, I was born and raised in the Dayton, Ohio area, about 45 minutes north of Cincinnati. Now 38, I live in Orlando, but I lived in southwest Ohio until 2002.
Inspired by my father, who played sports avidly in recreational leagues and followed the Reds, Bengals and Ohio State Buckeyes (he still does), I developed an interest in sports at a young age. By the time I was 6, I could tell you the players on teams and their accompanying statistics. That year, 1975, is the first year I remember watching sports. The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl, and I became an instant fan of the black-and-gold.
That fall, I watched my first World Series game - which today is still considered the best Fall Classic game ever played. It was Game 6 between the Reds and Red Sox, when Carlton Fisk hit the first pitch delivered by Pat Darcy in the 12th inning at Fenway Park and waved his home run fair. It was on to Game 7, where I experienced my first Red Sox heartbreak. Still, I was immediately hooked - by young and scrappy players like Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans and Fisk and veterans like Yaz and Luis Tiant.
In Big Red Machine country, I was a Red Sox fan. Keep in mind this was the 70s - no Internet, no MLB.com, not even ESPN Sportscenter. Following the Red Sox was a challenge, limited to newspaper reports the morning after the game and Saturday afternoons when the Sox were televised on the game of the week. I regularly attended Reds game, and for some reason always rooted against them, to my father's curiosity. At least we have two teams in common to this day, Ohio State and the Boston Celtics.