I went to my first Indians game of the season this past Sunday.
When you have four people working different jobs in your family, it is important to plan ahead to make sure all can travel away for a weekend together.
My plan was to kill three birds with one stone, if I may alter a cliché.
I wanted to go to my hometown of Streetsboro on Saturday night and attend a 50th wedding anniversary and renewal of vows.
Then we would head over to nearby Stow and visit with good friend, University of Akron play-by-play man Steve French.
Finally, head Sunday to Cleveland and watch the Indians at Progressive Field.
Bob and Pat Giunto lived down the street from the Kozas when I was growing up in the ‘Boro.
I spent a lot of time at their house as a kid.
And when I was older, we hung out in their garage, listening to the Indians on the radio and drinking Genesee cream ale beer.
Man those were great times.
Bob was like a second father to me.
When Dad couldn’t take me to the Indians games, there Bob was.
He would order a foot long hot dog at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, throw the hot dog out, and overflow the bun with stadium mustard.
I loved it.
It was also great to be back in my hometown nearly three years to the day that I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer.
I hate cancer.
But this was to be a positive weekend and it was.
Good stuff on Saturday and then what an easy drive to Cleveland on Sunday from Stow, too.
I don’t remember it being that easy when I would travel from Streetsboro to Cleveland back in the 60s and 70s, for sure.
For the Indians game, we parked in a lot off East 14th Street for just $10.
Not a bad walk to the stadium either, and once inside I got emotional again.
I always do that when I travel to a Cleveland sporting event. Maybe it’s the memories of going for so many years. Going to the games as a kid, and enjoying them just as much as an adult, and now enjoying them with my wife and 20-year-old twin daughters.
I remember the twins’ first game, too: July 16, 1995. They were only a year and a half old each then.
It was the Indians game vs. Oakland in which Tribe slugger Manny Ramirez hit a home run off of the A’s star reliever Dennis Eckersley and Eckersley mouthed “wow” after the monster blast that won the game for the Indians in the bottom of the 12th inning.
What a first game for the twins, huh?
The Indians went on that year to make it to the pos season for the first time since 1954.
And I went to their first playoff game that year.
And it was a dramatic win, too.
Oct. 3, 1995.
It rained all day in Cleveland and it looked like the Indians first playoff game in 41 years may not be played.
But after a 39-minute rain delay, the game started and was a close one throughout.
The Red Sox hit a home run in the top of the eighth to tie the game at 3-3 and we would go to extra innings.
Boston hit a home run in the top of the 11th to take the lead, but Albert Belle hit a dramatic home run in the bottom of the frame to keep the game tied.
And then in the bottom of the 13th, Indians backup catcher Tony Pena hit a walk off home run and I was the happiest man in the world that night.
This past Sunday’s regular season matchup versus Minnesota wasn’t quite as dramatic as the two previous games mentioned in this column. And this time they lost.
But I always enjoy going to the games.
And, I take the losses better now than I used to.
Maybe it is because I am older and have gotten used to it.
Maybe it is because my expectations aren’t as big as they were when I was young, or when the Indians were actually good.
But I still love going to Cleveland.
It was an enjoyable day and an easy less than three hour drive back to Lima later that night.
Who’s in for a trip the next time they are home?
(Maverick Media Radio is no more effective June 30. We become Childers Media Group and are moving our radio headquarters to downtown Lima and into a beautiful renovated facility. My new email becomes: firstname.lastname@example.org)