The Internet was invented for us baseball fans. No other sport offers such a rich trove of statistics, and the Web is chock full of sites that slice and dice them. One of my favorite is baseballlibrary.com, which enabled me to track down the precise date of the first major league game I attended.
I knew that my father and probably my maternal grandfather had taken me to see the Indians play the Chicago White Sox on a weekend day game at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland. The only other clues I had were remembering that Dick Donovan was the starting pitcher for the Tribe and that Al Luplow was playing in the outfield.
I also remembered that the game was played before 1965, when Rocky Colavito returned to the Indians — one of the happiest occasions of my young life.
So I searched the Baseball Library day-by-day game records from 1964. No luck. Then 1963, and again no luck. But in 1962, I found the game: a Saturday afternoon affair at the stadium on July 7, on which Donovan started against Eddie Fisher. I was only 5 years old, younger than I had figured I’d find.
The Tribe won 5-3 and, even more amazing, it turned out to be the high point of the year for the team in the American League standings. The team was in first place but dropped to second the next day as the seventh-place ChiSox swept a double-header.
While the details of that first game I saw are a little fuzzy, I distinctly remember viewing the field awash in bright sunshine with Lake Erie looming out beyond left field. I’d take in many a ballgame at that park, but that first game was special.