By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Even as a child one of my favorite seasons was fall. And the reason wasn’t just the fact I have an October birthday.
There is a different feel to the air in the fall as we begin the transition from the “Dog Days of Summer” to the chilly temperature and snow that accompanies our winters here in northern Indiana.
Two of the best things about fall were football season was well underway and the baseball season was wrapping up with the Fall Classic.
Long before money became a driving force in the world of sports, World Series games were played during the daytime. It didn’t matter whether it was a Tuesday, Friday, Saturday or a Sunday.
The first scheduled night game was Game 4 of the 1971 Series at Three Rivers Stadium.
Daytime baseball meant not getting to see much of the games because of a thing called school. My glimpses of games consisting of running home at lunchtime (yes, we could go home for lunch in those days) or rushing home once school was finally dismissed at the end of the day in hopes of catching the last inning or two.
I went to Parkside for kindergarten through second grade before the family moved into the Chandler district where we stayed until my graduation from Goshen High School. Later on, the house we lived in on Reynolds Street was purchased by the school system and the back yard where my older brother Steve and I played is now part of the Goshen High School soccer field.
My fifth grade school year comes to mind when thinking about the World Series. There were two fifth-grade classes at Chandler. Mr. Fry taught my class while Mr. Stutzman taught the other one.
Paul Fry was one of my favorite teachers, but for the short period of time when the Series was being played I wanted to be in the other class. The reason? Mr. Stutzman brought a TV into his classroom so his students could watch the Series.
Looking back, watching the World Series probably wouldn’t have improved my education, but at the time it didn’t seem to help with the jealous feeling that while we were studying math or geography the class next door was watching the Fall Classic.
One of the Fall Classics that comes to mind from that period of time was the 1968 one that matched the American League champion Detroit Tigers and the National League winner the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Series featured two of the top pitchers in the game in Detroit standout Denny McClain and St. Louis ace Bob Gibson. Pitchers were dominating the game in that era as McClain recorded 31 victories to go with six shutouts that season and Gibson 22 wins with a noteworthy 13 shutouts and a remarkable 1.12 ERA.
The pair squared off in Game 1 with Gibson fanning Tigers at a rate that threatened Sandy Koufax’s record of 15 strikeouts in a World Series game. Gibson finished with 17.
The Tiers ended up winning the Series in seven games with left-hander Mickey Lolich besting Gibson in Game 7 as the Tigers won their first World Series since 1945.
The memory is enough to give this Cubs’ fan hope that some day the team will break its World Series jinx.