Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Excerpt 2- The Last 27 Outs

By the late spring of 1982, my family had moved to Boca Raton, Florida. By now, I was a fully entrenched Bay Area sports fanatic. Florida did not boast a Major League Baseball franchise at that time. The majority of South Floridians, being transplants, came all set with their own favorite sports teams in tow. Florida was a booming marketplace in the 1980s. Families wanted to raise their children in a nice, warm climate, with good school systems, and brand new stucco homes. It wasn't enough to live in the suburbs anymore. You had to live in "subdivisions" within the suburbs. When my family moved to Boca Raton, we didn't just live in Boca Raton. In fact, we technically lived outside of the "Boca Raton City Limits". To this day, I have no idea what that means. What I do know, is that we lived in a development called "Loggers' Run". And within Loggers' Run, we lived in a subdivision called "Indian Head". This was how living in South Florida was in the 1980s. And the allure of these new developments popping up along the coast in Florida, drew many young families there. Most of them came from New Jersey or New York, and brought with them their love of the Yankees or Mets. Those who came from the New England area loved their Red Sox. And those who may have ventured from the Midwest lived and died with their Cubs. There may have been a rare occasion that a native Floridian actually did exist. And, since the Atlanta Braves were the closest geographical team, and their Spring Training site at that time was just a few miles north, in West Palm Beach, there were a few Braves fans as well. It wasn't so bad being the only Giants fan in town. What did get under my skin though, was always having to explain myself. Even as a young child. I remember going to the grocery store with my mother one day when I was 7, wearing a Giants t-shirt, just before the start of the football season. That led to a pretty heated exchange between the checkout clerk and I.
"Alright. A Giants fan!" the teenage clerk exclaimed. "You think we're gonna be pretty good this year?"
"We're ok. But the Braves and Dodgers are better than us this year," I sounded rather dejected as I answered.
Clearly this confused the clerk, as he looked at me like I was a trigonometry question he hadn't prepared for. "The Braves and Dodgers?" he asked, rather curtly. "What do they have to do with how the Giants will play this season? All we have to worry about is if the NFL is going to play or be on strike this season."
"I think my son was talking about......" my mother tried to interject before I put the clerk in his place. She didn't succeed.
"Oh, those Giants?" I turned up an eyebrow at him. "I hate those Giants. The 49'ers kicked their butt last year. I was talking about the baseball Giants......duh." I huffed loudly, as the elderly woman behind us at the checkout line wasn't sure whether to be shocked at my behavior or chuckle at my boldness.
"What Giants baseball team?" the clerk again looked as confused as he most certainly did on every high school math test he ever took.
"Mom, can we just go? This guy doesn't know anything !" My mother paid the clerk, apologized for my "rude" behavior and scurried me out of the local Publix as fast as I'd ever seen her move. I heard some laughter in the background as we left. I was proud of myself. My mother......not so much.
This was common for me though. Everyone in Florida equates the "Giants" with football, as they are New York's team, and as such, they have a very large following in Florida. Baseball's version of the Giants plays in San Francisco. They are not very well known in Florida. The clerk not even knowing that they were a baseball team would not be the last person that wouldn't know there was a professional baseball team named the Giants. But even after I explained who the Giants were and that they did in fact play baseball - and quite well by comparison, I still had to explain why I was a fan of them.