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Old typewriters have an unmistakable charm, eliciting an intimate relationship.

Their engineering requires a level of physical exchange — an investment leaving when one is finished writing, a feeling of involvement and a longing to return. And its sound — the tapping of the keys, tik-tik-cha-tik-tik-cha-tik-tik-cha-ding.

The noise once competed with the sounds of the announcer, the crack of the ball hitting the bat and the crowds cheering during baseball games, when sports writers took their places in the stands, hammering out the plays.

The 2019 baseball season marked the 150th anniversary of professional baseball, dating back to the 1869 foundation of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball’s first openly all-professional team with 10 salaried players.

Growing up in Ohio, my siblings and I spent many a game in the now razed, circular Riverfront Stadium, when hot dogs and drinks were affordable for a family of seven. One happy baseball memory came from my late dad, Bob, from his orphanage days.

It seems the late great Babe Ruth visited the orphans, taking them jerseys and regaling them with stories of his career as a baseball player. His time spent in St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, in Baltimore, where he was sent in 1902 at age 7, may have instilled in him a soft spot for the orphans.

Ruth was an American professional baseball player, whose career in Major League Baseball spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935. He began his MLB career as a left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, and then as an outfielder for the New York Yankees. One of his many established MLB records includes 714 home runs.

While he is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes of all time, to my dad and his friends he was a sweet man bringing them presents.

Time eventually brought a new man into my life — Dave Concepcion. Playing shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds from 1970-1988, he was a five-time winner of the Gold Glove Award. By 1975, he joined Cesar Geronimo, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Ken Griffey Sr. and George Foster in the “Great Eight” starting lineup as part of “The Big Red Machine.” This force of men helped the Reds win the next two World Series titles.

But to me he was a handsome Venezuelan baseball star, sharpening my interest in the game. His final and 19th season came in 1988 and his jersey, No. 13, was retired by the Reds, Aug.5, 2007, in honor of his contributions to the team.

One of many poems my dad shared with us, “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, captures highly descriptive moments like this one, that make people still flock to the stands.
“Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.”

I read now the average MLB ticket price is $50 and the cost of hot dogs and drinks has skyrocketed in most stadiums. While it warms my heart to know that folks still gather there, no time was better in baseball than those early years in Cincinnati.

And oh, to have been a journalist typing from those bleachers.

Tik-tik-cha-tik-tik-cha-tik-tik-cha: and that is all.

Published in The Herald