Antidote to Barry Bonds

Appropriately, I was at a baseball game when Barry Bonds hit his record-breaking 756th home run. I stood and applauded as the announcement lit up the outfield screen at Angel Stadium. What kind of message was I sending my two athletic sons, Matt, 17 and Andy, 15, I wondered. Was I saying I condoned cheating, if indeed, Bonds did use steroids to help him pass Hank Aaron?

I was conflicted and my body was consumed by a halting ache. I love baseball, grew up with a dad who took me to Yankee Stadium, watched Chris Chambliss hit a home run that sent my boyhood Yankees (who were awful) into the World Series in 1976 for the first time in 12 years. My cheering was an inborn reflex, my baseball gene going off, celebrating a baseball milestone.

Thoughts earlier in the week, after Yankee Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th home run, went to May 1967, when me, my sisters and my brother made such a ruckus in the back seat of my father’s Chevy Impala after hearing the call by Phil Rizzuto of Mickey Mantle’s 500th home run on the car radio. We were traveling in the Bronx, a few miles from the stadium, when The Mick hit it and we celebrated right there on Gun Hill Road.
My dad had to pull over or risk an accident.

But there was no such overwhelming emotion Tuesday night. Just a reflex, then a lament followed by doubts and sadness.

Baseball shouldn’t be that way. There’s no joy in wondering if a 10-time millionaire was injecting illegal substances to grotesquely grow his muscles. Baseball should be fun, exciting, a pure escape.

If you’re sick of Barry Bonds and of all the scandals plaguing professional sports, there is an antidote for us fans.

Go to the Little League Western Championships in San Bernardino. See spirited 11- and 12-year-olds play the game (albeit on a lot smaller diamond) with pure passion. Go for the old-fashioned fun and clean atmosphere.

We learned about this from the father of Temple City High School’s star baseball player Mike Mendoza. We’ve gone every year for the past four years to San Bernardino’s Al Houghton Stadium. Admission is free, as is the parking. And the concessions are reasonably priced. You can still find baseball moms and baseball dads making popcorn or cotton candy. And the roasted corn is to die for.

Kids trade Little League baseball pins. Families spread blankets and put up beach chairs in the outfield viewing areas to watch the game. A guy dressed in a clown outfit sells ice cream and entertains the little spectators.

Thursday are the semifinals (games at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.) and Saturday’s championship game begins at 6 p.m. Winner goes to Williamsport, PA to play in the 2007 Little League World Series. That’s another place all true baseball fans must see.
Play ball!

Left field view of Al Houghton Stadium, San Bernardino.

This entry was posted in environment, land use, Pasadena by Steve Scauzillo. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steve Scauzillo

I love journalism. I've been working in journalism for 32 years. I love communicating and now, that includes writing about environment, transportation and the foothill/Puente Hills communities of Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, Walnut and Diamond Bar. I write a couple of columns, one on fridays in Opinion and the other, The Green Way, in the main news section. Send me ideas for stories. Or comments. I was opinion page editor for 12 years so I enjoy a good opinion now and then.

3 thoughts on “Antidote to Barry Bonds

  1. I’m Steve’s sister and I remember that “scene” in the back of my dad’s Chevy after Mantle hit number 500 and listening to Phillip Francis Rizzuto call that homer and also Maris’s 61st home run as I watched it on TV. Baseball has given me endless hours of pleasure and some pain. It hurts me to see Barry Bonds and know he cheated. But it also hurt me to see Mickey Mantle die an early death due to alcohol abuse. Micky was our Man-tel the end and it came much too soon for him and me. If it wasn’t for alcohol he would have hit 800 home runs..clean. Barry in my opinion is a disgrace to the game, because he cheated, as did Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa. Give me back the days of Rizzuto, Berra and The Yankee Clipper.

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