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Baseball and the love of it, more than any other sport, is passed on from generation to generation. Most of the time it is passed from father to son or from father to daughter. Of course, there are many other ways that the love of the game is passed from one generation to the next.
My story is a little different in that it was me as a child getting a parent involved in the game, and then seeing that parent learn to love the Tribe for life. Another angle that makes my story just a little different is the fact that the parent who came to love the Cleveland Indians with me was my Mother. She was already in her early 40’s when after much begging by me, her 7 or 8 year old son, she took me to Cleveland Municipal Stadium for Bat Day. In those days the Indians gave every child 14 and under a full sized bat if they were accompanied by a parent. My father who was already sick with emphysema was never really a sports fan to begin with. So, my Mother went with me so I could get my bat.
It was a slow building love of the Indians for my Mother. She was overworked trying to support her rather large family on wages that, coupled with my father’s Social Security disability benefits, were not nearly enough. But this is not about the struggles of our family. This is a story about a son and a mother and our shared love of the Cleveland Indians.
Many times over the next few years she would listen to parts of the game on the radio with me, usually for a just few minutes at a time. Jimmy Dudley was still calling the games. That is one of my fond memories of those days. Another memory is her coming in and turning off my transistor radio in the middle of the night, long after I had fallen asleep listening to the Tribe. She would then reminding me in the morning “I told you you couldn’t stay awake for the whole game”. She would then tell me the score of the game. It didn’t matter to me, at 9 or 10 years old, that the Indians lost more often than they won in those years.
My father passed away in late 1971 when I was 16 years old. By then my older brothers and sisters were married or lived on their own. It was just my mother and me. By that time more games were on TV and it was easier to spend some time with her watching the games. Every morning even though she knew I watched, listened or in some cases went to the Indians game the night before she would always tell me the score when I got up and about. If the Indians lost “it was your Indians went down swinging”. If they won it was “how about that, our Indians won one.”
It was about this time that my brothers and sisters starting having babies like rabbits, giving my mother several grandchildren in a brief period of time. I started teasing my Mother by telling her she was turning into an “Old Granny”. “Granny” was the nickname that stuck and the name she would affectionately be called by everyone. She loved the nickname. In her later years she would tell everyone to “just call me Granny.” That is just a little background on the nickname, Granny, that several of my Indians Video Slideshows have been dedicated to.
Click the thumbnail to play The 1995-1997 Indians Video Slideshow
As the Indians became more and more accessible through TV “Granny” became more and more of a fan. Eventually she was hooked and every game was either watched or listened to, at least in part, by her. By the early 1990’s I was divorced and moved back in with my mother to care for her and her house. By the time the Indians became a contender in the 1990’s “Granny” knew every player and never missed a game.
In 1995 I brought a cat home for son’s 12th birthday. We named the cat “Chief Wahoo.” “Granny” became attached to “Chief Wahoo” and would later claim him as her own. She watched the 1995 World Series with my 12 year son and “Chief Wahoo,” crying shamelessly when “her boys lost” but, “at least they went down swinging.” It was more of the same in 1997.
Every morning “Granny” would, just as she had when I was much younger, tell me the score knowing full well that I watched, listened, or went to the game and thus knew the score. It came to be one of the expected joys of the Baseball season. “Granny” never fully understood all of the nuisances of the game such as the double switch used in interleague play. “Granny” did become the most loyal fan that any one could ever be. She loved the Indians win or lose and never said a negative thing about them. The Tribe was in many ways like her own children, which coincidentally numbered nine. She also learned to “Hate the Yankees”. The Yankees might have been the only thing she ever hated in her life. Her favorite player, ever, for the Indians was, just like every other female in Cleveland, Omar Vizquel.
Granny continued to love the Indians and watched every game until she became too ill and eventually passed away about two weeks before Mother’s Day 2007 at the age of 85.
It was a little bit different route that “Granny” and I both took to our love for the Cleveland Indians. But, it is something I would not trade for anything in the world. Today, on Mother’s Day, I will go to the Cemetery with radio in hand and spend an inning or two listening to the Tribe game. It will be “Granny”, The Tribe, and Me once again.
Originally posted on Mother’s Day 2011
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Louie Anderson 216.688.6979