SI Vault
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
September 22, 1986
I got hooked on baseball on a Sunday afternoon in May 1948, when I was 13 years old, relatively late in life for a baseball fan. Before that fateful Sunday, I'd tried halfheartedly—and failed—to understand what all the excitement was about. As early as I could remember, I'd sensed that something important was going on around me. In the New York City apartment building where I grew up, the other children would shout and argue about what must have been the comparative merits of the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants. And, at school, fathers with pipes or cigars in their mouths would come in the spring to take their sons away to the Opening Day game, or in the fall to the World Series. But the shouted arguments meant nothing to me. And my father wasn't an admirer of baseball.
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September 22, 1986

A Three-homer Game By Joe Dimaggio Made A Believer Of A Teenage Boy

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It was the first time I'd ever been moved by a broadcast of baseball. Indeed, it was the first time a mystifying code had become clear to me. In Berlin in 1947, when I was told it was World Series time, I dutifully went home and listened to every broadcast of the games between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Yankees on the Armed Forces Radio Network. Years later I came to understand that I'd heard one of the more dramatic Series in history. But at the time, between the static and my own ignorance, I barely understood a word of what I heard.

Now Joe DiMaggio had nailed a home run into my head.

Half an hour later, I found myself at the enthralling open door once again. The bed had become a couch. The woman had put on a dress; the man was in a robe. But the radio buzzed on.

"Who's up now?"

" Tommy Henrich. Then comes DiMaggio. Come on in. Sit down."

DiMaggio came to bat again. Feller pitched. Against the noise of the crowd the announcer's voice went metallic: "Going, going, gah-own!"

"He did it again!" I yelled.

"I'll say he did. Joe DiMaggio."

"But that's amazing, isn't it?"

"It's really something. Not a record, though."

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