The year was 1965. That was the year I fell in love with baseball and history.
It happened in Miss Tomlinson's fifth-grade class at Crestview Elementary School in Merriam, Kan. We had the Kansas City Athletics, but they were a last-place mess that went 59-103 that season of '65. The only highlight was Campy Campaneris playing all nine positions against the Angels on Sept. 8. I was searching for a baseball team that I could love. Miss Tomlinson had a passion for baseball, so when she wheeled that 14-inch black-and-white TV into class so we could watch the Dodgers play the Twins for the World Series, I was in heaven.
Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale beat the Twins in seven games, but I found myself cheering for the Twins. Minnesota had names like Mudcat Grant, Zoilo Versalles and Harmon Killebrew, but they also had an outfielder from Cuba named Tony Oliva. I could not keep my eyes off the way Oliva ran the bases and swung the bat. From that day forward my Little League jersey bore Oliva's No. 6 and my dad bought me a "Tony O" glove for Christmas. Life was good.