Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Birthday Baseball

Growing up as a baseball fan with a late October birthday, it was always disappointing that I never got to see a game on that day. My only hope, albeit a slim one, was the World Series. I’ll never forget when an earthquake struck San Francisco before Game 3 of the 1989 Series, delaying the action for nearly two weeks and making Brian’s Birthday Baseball a very real possibility. Alas, Oakland took no pity on the Giants, finishing off a four game sweep on October 28, just two days short.

This year, Game 6 is scheduled for October 30, which means I could have the opportunity to celebrate a Red Sox world championship on my birthday. That would, of course, be great. But this timing also made me think about if I’ve ever seen a game on my birthday, and how often I’ve come close.

For starters, here are the World Series that came close, ending on October 27 or 28 (I only went back as far as 1969, when divisional play began; it seems reasonable to assume that late October baseball would have been very unlikely at least without the extra round of playoffs):

October 27: 1985 (seven games), 1986 (seven games), 1991 (seven games), 1999 (four games), 2002 (seven games), 2004 (four games), 2006 (five games), 2008 (five games)

October 28: 1981 (six games), 1989 (four games), 1995 (six games), 2007 (four games), 2011 (seven games), 2012 (four games)

The 2009 World Series deserves honorable mention: it didn’t wrap up until November 4, when Andy Pettitte beat Pedro Martinez in Game 6, but October 30 conveniently fell on a travel day between Games 2 and 3. Not sure it mattered anyway, since watching a Yankees-Phillies Fall Classic was not high on my list of things to do at that point.

In the end, there were two professional baseball games played on October 30: Game 3 of the 2001 and 2010 World Series. The first was one of the most emotional dates in postseason history; President George W.Bush took to the Yankee Stadium mound about seven weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks and delivered a picture perfect first pitch, right down the middle. I don’t remember watching it live (I was probably working), but finding it on YouTube this afternoon gave me chills. It was an incredible moment in what turned out to be a classic Classic.

Game 3 in 2010 was slightly less important, unless you consider the first World Series win in Texas Rangers history a monumental event. This was actually the only game San Francisco lost in either of its championship runs. It’s like the universe was giving me a “my bad” fist bump for the near-miss in 1989.

With a little luck, next week I’ll be celebrating another day of Brian’s Birthday Baseball, with a side of World Champion Boston Red Sox.