This is the first record I ever owned that wasn't "for kids".
I don't remember who gave it to me or even really when I received it. I'm pretty sure it was Christmas time and judging by when this John Denver album came out, I'd guess it was Christmas 1974. I'm also guessing it could have been a gift from my mom. I do remember the John Denver album "Rocky Mountain High" in my parents' record stash when I was a kid.
Even at that time -- I was nine -- I didn't know what to do with a John Denver album. But songs from that time, say 1973-76, bring back a certain feeling when I was just beginning to notice popular music. Songs like Diana Ross' "Do You Know Where You're Going To", Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy" and just about anything from the Captain and Tennille evoke a sense of discovery from childhood -- music on the AM radio, what a concept. This was the first time I made the connection you could hear music from that thing on the car dashboard.
"Back Home Again" is another first from my childhood. I wrote a post about those childhood "firsts" six months ago. The Chronicles of Fuji brought up that post just yesterday and that jogged my memory that I was supposed to add to that original post when I wrote it back in April.
So I'm adding to it now with more "firsts".
Many of these I've written about before, even within the last year, but like I said on that first firsts post, this is an effort to protect the memories that I have, knowing that my memory isn't what it once was and will probably get worse in the years to come. Future me can simply click on the label link "first" and get my answers.
OK, sorry if I'm repeating myself here -- that's something that's going to get worse as I get older, too. But here are some more firsts:
First glove I ever owned
I just wrote about this after Tom Seaver passed away. My first glove was a bicentennial, red-white-and-blue Tom Seaver model with Seaver's signature in the blue palm of the glove. I had the most distinctive gear on the field and it's probably why to this day that I appreciate players who use gloves that are blue or red rather than mundane brown. Seaver's 1976 Topps card came out the same year I got that glove and it's probably why this card stands out to me more than most of his other cards.
First youth league team I was on that was named after a major league team
I was a member of the Pirates. No, we didn't wear pillbox hats. In fact, our jerseys were maroon-colored. (None of the colors in the league matched, the Phillies were green, the Dodgers were orange). This league was more low-key than your typical Little League, where teams were named after insurance companies or "Jim's Refrigeration". I think my dad wasn't crazy about some of the favoritism he saw in the local LL.
Anyway, I liked playing for a team with a major league name better. My Pirates teams -- and me -- were lousy that first year. But the following year I went through a growth spurt and was one of the team's better players. My team finished third or fourth that year, too.
First MLB game I attended
I've written about this before, way, way back. The first game I saw came on July 15, 1978 in Yankee Stadium. It was a night game against the Royals. The starting pitchers were Dennis Leonard and Ed Figueroa (that Figueroa took me forever to obtain, stupid Yankee tax). The Royals won the game, 8-2, and then we drove all night to get back home. When I arrived home, I had seen my first major league game and it was my birthday.
First MLB home run I saw
None other than chin-scratchin' Pete LaCock hit the first major league home run that I witnessed. It was a three-run home run in the second inning of that 8-2 victory and gave the Royals a 5-0 lead. I have vague memories of LaCock's home run traveling over the right field wall and barely being able to see as we were in the mezzanine section on the third base side and I was short and the people in front of me were too damn big to begin with and standing up and little ol' me was quite frustrated. That's what I remember anyway.
First MLB game I saw go to extra innings
I wrote about this game recently, too. It was in Fenway Park, on Aug. 14, 1982. I remember I had just gotten my driver's license a few days prior -- no, I didn't drive all the way to Boston to celebrate. The Orioles won the game, 5-2, in 10 innings. Joe Nolan, who was a rookie catcher at the time, drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the 10th. Rich Dauer followed with a two-run single.
First baseball card trade I ever made
The details are hazy with this one. I don't remember all of the cards that were part of the trade, I just know that this Gary Gentry card was one that I received. The trade happened in the spring of 1975 and I traded with my friend Mario. I know several cards traded hands in each direction, so I guess you could call it a blockbuster ... for a variety of reasons.
First friends that I knew who were fans of teams other than the Yankees
The vast majority of kids that I knew when I was growing up were either nonfans or Yankee fans. It was very difficult to find someone who stood out from the crowd. I was one of them, of course, a lonely Dodger fan. Then a new kid moved into the neighborhood named Jeff. He was from the Kansas City area and he was a Royals fan. His favorite player was Amos Otis. He LOVED Amos Otis. He thought he was the best player in the game at that time.
The Royals were just beginning to come into prominence at that time, on their way to three straight division titles, four in the next five and a World Series in 1980. Jeff was long gone by 1980 but he started my appreciation for the Royals, which has been one of my back-up rooting interests ever since.
The other baseball fan friend I had who wasn't interested in the Yankees was an A's fan. He was the type of kid who had to like only the best teams and the A's at that time -- I had known this kid since first or second grade -- were three-time defending champs. In retrospect, this kid had a lot of problems (I'm pretty sure he became a delinquent). I'm certain that if he was just a few years younger, he would have been a Yankee fan, since the Yankees won titles in 1977 and 1978.
First major league player I ever met
Although I looked up to baseball players as a kid, I didn't have much of a desire to meet them. Maybe it's because I was too shy or maybe it's because I didn't really looked to them in that way. I remember going to a card show once where the guest signer was Brooks Robinson. My brother wanted to get an autograph from Brooks because he was an Orioles fan. Me? I didn't care. I didn't even bother to go to the room where Robinson was signing just to see him. I kept looking at cards.
Anyway, because of that, the first ballplayer I ever met was on the job. Working in Niagara Falls at the time, the brand new New York-Penn League baseball team was playing Welland, Ontario, in its first game. The manager of Welland was former World Series ballplayer U.L. Washington, famous for carrying a toothpick in his mouth. I interviewed Washington after the game and that was the first of many interview encounters with MLB players.
So, that's another look at some firsts. I'll probably continue to do these as I really like the idea of having a reminder set for me.
It's fairly apparent, judging by the comments on my other post as well as from Fuji's post and the comments on that one, that my memory is sharper than others, at least other card bloggers anyway. I've been thinking about that since, and perhaps my memory is sharp because I've always had an appreciation for notable moments in my life. I've been able to experience them and then something in my brain goes, "this is big" and it's in there forever. I have a strong appreciation for "moments," I guess.
I think that's why I became a journalist. I can absorb a moment and know why it is significant and can catalog that. It's a gift, I suppose. Because I thought everyone had it. But I'm being told they don't.
Anyway, I'm sure I'll be able to dig up more stuff another time.