Game on

Published: December 27, 2006

My wife always delivers the goods, and this Christmas was no exception. Under our tree for me was double boxed-set of St. Louis Cardinals DVDs just released. There’s every game of the glorious 2006 World Series in one set, and the other is a group of about 10 discs with Cardinals’ greatest hits, starting with Bob Gibson‘s 17-strikeout masterpiece in Game 1 of the 1968 Series with the Tigers.

I suppose I should have been working on the next pipes|drums feature or readying the next exclusive interview, but yesterday I spent two hours watching Game 3 of the 1987 World Series against the Minnesota Twins. I started with this because I never actually saw any of the ’87 Series. Why? Because I was living in Scotland as something of a bagpipe bum at the time.

Back then you had to rely on the International Herald Tribune to get scores about two days after the games. I sometimes would splurge to buy a rare copy of USA Today, which one newsagent on Edinburgh’s High Street carried, and my Dad used to mail wads of clippings from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. There was no internet or satellite TV, and the 1984-’87 baseball seasons are pretty much a big void. I’ll always remember sitting in my room in Andrew Stewart Hall at the University of Stirling‘s halls of residence when I learned of Bob Forsch’s September 1984 no-hitter via one of those clippings envelopes.

Game 3 of the ’87 Series was a pitching gem by John Tudor, who for three years was unbelievably good. This was a game that I listened to, along with all of the others, on a little short-wave radio, barely catching the Armed Services Network as it whistled in and out. Back then, between stints of busking on Princes Street, I worked at Mama’s, a restaurant in the Grassmarket then owned and operated by a couple of Canadian actors, Angus MacInnes and Phil Craig. (It’s still there, even though they sold around 1990 and returned to very successful careers in film and TV.) I would work until closing, and then stayed up until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. to listen to the games.

Missing that Series was particularly hard. I graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1985, followed the Twins and went to a lot of games at the Metrodome. I got to know the Twins as well as the Cardinals, so the two teams meeting the World Series was a personal convergence.

I guess I’ve given up a lot of “normal” things in preference of abnormal piping pursuits. But at least one of those absences was finally filled yesterday.


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