Jump On The Bandwagon

I often write about my son, Sam. Last week I tried to convince Sam that the poem, Casey at the Bat was a classic. You helped but I’m not sure he is still really convinced, but Sam’s paper in Composition will be about the VERY classic poem, Casey at the Bat. I hope the instructor is convinced.


The 2017-2018 college basketball season ended Sunday for the women and Monday for the men. Some of you might be women basketball haters, but you will lose all arguments trying to convince me that you could find any more dramatic endings for all three Final Four games. The three men’s games lacked the drama at the end. All were double-digit wins.


Kansas was back in the San Antonio trying to repeat their 2008 national championship. It made me think back to that championship game with Kansas fighting off Memphis in that classic 2008 game, played in San Antonio.


Sam has always been a fanatic fan of whatever team he seems to be rooting for at the time. In 2008, it was the Kansas Jayhawks. Sam had a lot of Jayhawk gear. Bryce Neal, one of his friends, was a big Kansas fan, too. They were easy to recognize in class with their Jayhawk blue proudly being worn.


The people who set times for these championship games don’t have eight-year old super fans in mind. Any self-respecting parent surely would have their eight-year old kid in bed with the lights out by 9:00. In Sam’s case, he could talk himself into a 10:00 pm bed time.


The game in 2008 should have gotten over by 11. After all, Kansas trailed by nine points with two minutes on the clock. The under four-minute time-out hadn’t help get the Jayhawks motivated and back in the game. It looked hopeless.


Sam was beside himself. His Jayhawks were going down to defeat. He even shed a tear for his favorite team. I told him just like the line in Casey at the Bat, “Hope springs eternal,” but Sam wasn’t buying it. After all, Casey did strike out.


Kansas got a steal, the hit a three and found themselves closing in. When Derrick Rose, the Memphis point guard, missed one of two free throws, Kansas had a chance. Mario Chalmers took advantage of the missed free throw. Taking a hand-off, Chalmers rose up and hit a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.


There was no stopping the Jayhawks now and they won going away by seven points. Sam went from tears to cheers in a matter of minutes. Being the outstanding parent, I came in with a “I told you so.”


If you think sleep was tough while the game was in progress, it was impossible during the couch-jumping celebration that followed the final buzzer. It was well past midnight before Sam saw the backside of his eyelids.


There is no doubt Sam had jumped on the Kansas bandwagon and rode it all the way through to a championship. Well the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. In 1958, I was eight years old and a huge New York Yankee fan. How could I be a Kansas City A’s fan? They traded all their good players to the Yankees.


I tried to collect all the famous Yankee baseball cards. Do you think I could get Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford or Yogi Berra card? No chance, but my classmate, Bob Roker got them all. I spent all my allowance on those nickel pack of five cards and a piece of stale bubble gum. I think I got a Ryan Duren, their blind, alcoholic reliever, but never close to my hero, Mickey Mantle.


It didn’t matter. I jumped on the Yankee bandwagon. Back then, all games were played in the afternoon. The only way I could follow the games was by radio. We were allowed to bring our transistor radios to school, but we had to listen by ear buds. Back in 1958, the ear buds didn’t work too well. However, they worked well enough for a sports-crazed fourth grader.


I ignored my school work to live or die by every pitch as the Yankees faced the Milwaukee Braves in the World Series. It started poorly in game one as lefty Warren Spahn pitched all 10 innings in a 4-3 Braves win. The Braves had beaten Whitey Ford.


You would think with 21 game winner, Bob Turley, pitching for the Yankees and Mickey Mantle hitting two home runs, it would have gone better for my favorite team. Unfortunately, Turley gave up seven runs while only getting one out. The Bronx Bombers lost for a second straight day 13 – 5.


No team had ever come back from a 3 – 0 game deficit, so when Don Larson shut out Milwaukee when the games shifted to Yankee Stadium, all looked right in the world. But Spahn came back in game four to shut out the Yankees and beat Whitey Ford again, this time 4 – 0.


The Yankees hopes got a boost when Bob Turley came back from a horrible outing in game two to shut out the Braves 7 – 0 in game five. Now down three games to two, the teams headed back to Milwaukee.


I was going nuts at my school desk as I listened to game six. The game was tied at 2 after nine innings. New York scored two in the tenth, but Ryan Duren couldn’t get the third out. With one run in and runners at first and third, Bob Turley, on only one day rest, came on to get that final out. We would now see a game seven.


Turley would be crucial in game seven, too. With the score tied at two, the pitcher who gave up seven runs in game two, shut down the Braves the rest of the way. Bob Turley would be named the series’ MVP. After the 6 – 2 win, I got in trouble with the fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Edna Hunt, for excessive celebration.


Just like Sam at age eight, I had jumped on the bandwagon and my team had won a championship. Sam is no longer on the Jayhawk bandwagon. He rooted for Villanova last week and was overjoyed when Kansas lost big. He is now on the Missouri bandwagon. “MIZ – ZOU.” Just like Sam, I am no longer on the bandwagon of the evil nation known as the New York Yankees. Go Royals. I hope they have a bandwagon coming this year.

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