Our family has a bit of history with the World Series.
In 1920, the Cleveland Indians squared off against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. My grandfather, Gilbert Neal, then a mere lad of 22, told me decades later about taking the train from Akron to Cleveland to catch one of the Series games at old League Park. The Tribe won the Series — which in those days was a best of nine affair — to give Cleveland its first professional baseball championship. Grandpa’s favorite player, Stan Coveleski, won three of the games to help put the Indians over the top.
In 1976, Dad and I went down to Cincinnati to watch one of the World Series games between the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Yankees in old Riverfront Stadium. We weren’t really Reds fans, but when you get a chance to see a Series game, how can you say no? That was the right call, because it was an electric atmosphere and a game I’ll always remember. It was the apex of the Big Red Machine years, with Rose and Morgan, Bench and Perez, Foster and Geronimo. The Reds won that game, and they swept the Yankees to complete a year that causes some people to argue that the ’76 Reds were right there with the 1927 Yankees in the debate about which was the greatest baseball team of all time.
During the first half of my life, the Tribe was frequently terrible and at best mediocre, and never came close to the playoffs. But then their fortunes turned. The Tribe finally made it to the World Series again, in 1995 and 1997, but I didn’t go to any of the games. I was busy at work, the kids were little, and of course the ticket prices were exorbitant. And I guess I thought that, with the Indians turning the corner in the ’90s, we were likely to see another World Series in Cleveland in short order.
Of course, that didn’t happen — until this year. And when the Indians improbably beat the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays to make the Series, I told UJ and Russell that we had to go to a Series game up in Cleveland. How often do you have the chance to go to the World Series and support your team, watch a game with your son and brother, and experience that unique thrill of being at a championship event? This year, I was determined not to have the opportunity pass us by. So Friday I went on line, groaned at the outlandish scalpers’ prices being demanded for seats at the initial games in Cleveland, and then sucked it up and bought three seats together in one of the nosebleed sections of Progressive Field for game one of the World Series. I printed out the tickets yesterday.
So tomorrow night UJ, Russell and I will be in our seats at the ballpark in Cleveland — assuming that the tickets I paid through the nose for aren’t fraudulent, of course — to cheer like crazy for the Tribe. We’ll all get the chance to feel that World Series hoopla that Grandpa Neal enjoyed almost 100 years ago, and that Dad and I tasted 40 years ago. We’ll have an experience we’ll always remember, we’ll feel a stronger sense of connection to those long-departed family members, and we’ll add a bit to the family tradition with the World Series. I’d say that’s worth the money.