Winners Never Quit

Categories: Sports
Tags: Sports

“Cleveland vs. the Cubs. Game 7. Rain delay in the 10th inning at midnight. 160-something years of combined losing. Kinda poetic.”

So it was Game Seven and just like with Presidential debate #2, I was seated at the bar within the friendly confines of my fave neighborhood Italian joint. And this time around, the Margherita with pepperoni tasted oh so much sweeter.

I’d been texting back and forth with two of my most respected DDS/Invisalign types coming from Boston and on this night, Houston by way of New York. As the game, matching up two of the historically most unlikely opponents, progressed into extra innings, smart-as-they-get Doc Anna signed off; sorry she managed to squeeze in a photo of shirtless doughboy Mike Napoli running through the streets of Boston after a Red Sox championship.

I texted, “Cleveland vs. the Cubs. Game 7. Rain delay in the 10th inning at midnight. 160-something years of combined losing. Kinda poetic.”

One of my all-time mentors, if only for the past two years, Dr. David Galler aka the Wolf of Invisalign typed out, “I sense an article Jack.” The “Wolf” is seldom wrong.

Hope you guys don’t think I’m weird, even for a dentist, but baseball can freakin move me to tears…and I don’t mean from boredom. For one thing, I’ll probably never make it through Field of Dreams without crying like a USC sorority girl down to her last maxed-out Nordstrom card. I think it’s a dad thing.

Baseball takes me back to good times with my family, especially with my dad. We were Angels fans together all the way from the minor league Angels at our own Wrigley Field in South Central, to the birth of the major league Angels for Year One at Wrigley to a few years leasing Dodger Stadium and onward to Anaheim. Before the Los Angeles Angels became the California Angels and then the Anaheim Angels and finally the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Dad and I were season ticket holders. We saw Jimmy Piersall run the bases backward after hitting a homer and we saw Bo Belinski’s no-hitter.

I can still remember 7-year old me holding my dad’s hand as we walked through the tunnel and into the splendor of old Wrigley’s green geometric masterpiece. It was like seeing the Pacific for the first time. It took my breath away.

Years went by, Dad passed away…but not before seeing Nolan Ryan throw four no-hitters within a span of only 86 games. In ’86, the Angels came within an out of going to the World Series. The Champagne was bubbling in the clubhouse. Losing pitcher Donnie Moore committed suicide a few years later.

In the spring of 2002, my Pasadena buddy/fellow Angel fan, Doc Bob Shimasaki and I were privileged to do oral cancer screening for the entire Angel organization. Later, we saw an exhibition game between the Angels and my National League favorite San Francisco Giants; seven months later, they met in the World Series.

On a typically gorgeous SoCal Saturday afternoon in October, I got a call. Doc Bob had two tickets to Game Six.

I still have the two deflated Korean thunder-sticks. The rally monkey from Game Six still resides in treatment room #2. The ticket stub is framed and the words beneath it read “Winners Never Quit and Quitters never Win.”

I can clearly remember the late-Rory Markas’ call with the Giants down to their last out the next night in Game Seven, “Erstad says he’s got it.” And the long-suffering, LA second class Angels were World Series Champions.

Earlier this year, retiring Hall of Fame sports announcer Dick Enberg was interviewed and asked about the Angels’ Game Seven (With the Angels, Enberg and Dodger great Don Drysdale were the best baseball announcing team I’ve ever heard.) Near the end of the interview, the producer re-played Markas’ call. And 14 years after the fact, Enberg cried openly on the air. So did I.

In fact, every time I hear “Erstad says he’s got it” it’s like I’m seeing the Pacific for the first time. I think it’s a dad thing.

Congratulations Cubbies!!! Winners never quit.