Birthday memories, part one
I officially turned 39 at 9:16 a.m. Central Time. There were days when I didn’t think I would make 29, much less 39.
Actually, I almost didn’t make it much past 28. I came down with pneumonia and a collapsed right lung the Friday before Thanksgiving in 2004. Stupid me didn’t go to a doctor until the following Monday, and it nearly cost me my life.
That’s another story for another day. Right now, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane for birthdays past.
On the day I was born, the first micrograph of the Ebola virus was discovered by Dr. F.A. Murphy, who was working at the time for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Today, he’s a professor of microbiology at the University of California at Davis, best known for producing Ken O’Brien, the quarterback the New York Jets selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft, passing on this guy Dan Marino. Never heard of him.
Speaking of Atlanta, maybe I should have gone to Georgia Tech instead of LSU. Tech was founded on October 13, 1885.
Hours after I was born, the Kansas City Royals won Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium, 7-4. The win staved off elimination for the Royals, who were in Major League Baseball’s postseason for the first time. The next night, the Bronx Bombers won the pennant when Chris Chambliss hit Mark Littell’s first pitch of the bottom of the ninth over the right field fence, just out of the reach of the leaping Hal McRae. Royals manager Whitey Herzog contends that if his standout center fielder, Amos Otis, would not have been hurt in the first game of the series at Royals Stadium, maybe Al Cowens, forced to move from right to center in Otis’ place, catches Chambliss’ ball.
Herzog may have had a point. McRae rarely played the outfield after he was traded from Cincinnati to Kansas City, spending most of his Royals career exclusively as a designated hitter, the scourge of baseball. If McRae wasn’t good enough to play the field, he shouldn’t have been playing. Period. Karma, Whitey. Karma.
My last birthday party was for my seventh birthday in 1983. It was at Showbiz Pizza, which was the competitor to Chuck E. Cheese in the 1980s. Rosemarie Renz (Huget), who is my oldest (in terms of years knowing her, not age) friend, was at the party. I’ve thanked her for it.
I watched Game 4 of the 1984 World Series between the Padres and Tigers on the afternoon of my eighth birthday. Yes, I am old enough to remember when some World Series games were still played in the daytime. In 1985, the Cardinals-Royals series featured seven night games, and there has only been ONE day game in the Fall Classic since, Game 6 of the 1987 Cardinals-Twins series. In 1985, Missouri had a dry and mild October, so there were no weather worries. However, that isn’t always going to be the case.
Speaking of 1985, October 13 of that year was something else.
Since it was a Sunday, my mother cooked pasta, and then we went to her mother’s house, a shotgun duplex in the Algiers section of New Orleans. My brother and I flipped (literally flipped, the TV didn’t have a remote control) back and forth between the Saints-Raiders game and Game 5 of the American League Championship Series between the Royals and Blue Jays. During halftime of the football game, Brent Musburger announced on the NFL Today that Vince Coleman, the Cardinals’ speedy left fielder, had broken a bone in one of his legs after he got rolled up by the tarp at Busch Stadium. Coleman was out for the rest of the National League Championship Series, which the Cards won in six over the Dodgers, and the World Series. Most baseball fans know how THAT turned out, especially those in St. Louis and Kansas City. The football Cardinals began a steep decline that day, losing 30-7 to the Eagles in Philadelphia. The Big Red went from 3-1 to 5-11 and coach Jim Hanifan was fired. By 1988, the football Cards were in Arizona.
I spent part of my 20th birthday (1996) at the Superdome with my dad watching the Saints play the Bears. New Orleans won 27-24 in a battle of two forgettable teams.
Eight days later, the game became significant.
Following 19-7 loss to the Panthers in Charlotte, Saints coach Jim Mora resigned Oct. 21, walking out of his press conference after reading a short statement. In the locker room in Carolina, Mora ripped his team, saying they didn’t do “diddly-poo” offensively and calling the effort “horseshit”.
The game we witnessed vs. the Bears was Mora’s 93rd and final victory with the Saints. He would coach the Colts from 1998-2001, getting Peyton Manning’s career launched.
Peyton Manning was born March 24, 1976 at Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans. I was born in the same hospital. I’m sure Olivia Manning’s birth suite was far more palatial than my mother’s.
That’s a good place to stop for now. Part two to come.