“Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win it’s a shame.”
So it was a shame when our Charleston RiverDogs didn’t win Saturday night.
Also a shame: I showed up mere moments too late to get the free Bill Murray T-shirt awarded to the first 1,000 (out of 5,232) paying customers.
But there was no shame in singing, during the seventh-inning stretch, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” — written early in the 20th century by Jack Norworth (lyrics) and Albert Von Tilzer (music).
And though our Holy City/Port City is best known for history, architecture, restaurants and Southern gentility, we need feel no shame about our sports-city status — or our Yankees baseball affiliation.
We have college football with The Citadel and Charleston Southern, and college basketball and baseball with those two schools and the College of Charleston. We have pro soccer with the Charleston Battery and pro hockey with the South Carolina Stingrays.
We have big-time golf, including the 1991 Ryder Cup and the 2012 PGA Championship, both at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, and the upcoming (Aug. 5-11) U.S. Women’s Amateur at the Country Club of Charleston.
We even occasionally are graced by pro wrestling — including a “Monday Night Raw” that packed the North Charleston Coliseum three weeks ago.
But if you’re an old-time Charleston baseball fan like me, you can remember when we didn’t have a minor league team — from 1962-72.
Then the Charleston Pirates arrived in 1973. That was a timely thrill for this then-San Souci Street resident: I could walk to College Park to root for our new home team.
Crazy about baseball
Charleston Pirates had a swashbuckling ring to it. Back then, minor league teams usually went by their big league affiliates’ nicknames.
Too bad we don’t call our Charleston RiverDogs the Charleston Yankees.
Another old-timer insight: In the early 1960s, before the Braves came South, WTMA-AM 1250 broadcast New York Yankees games.
Among our Pirates’ future big leaguers: John “The Candy Man” Candelaria and Holly Hill native Willie Randolph.
The most heckle-able opponent: Orangeburg Cardinals manager Jimmy Piersall.
The 1958 Gold Glove center fielder for the Boston Red Sox wrote “Fear Strikes Out,” which chronicled his struggles with mental illness. That good book was made into a good 1957 movie (except for Anthony Perkins’ awkward swing).
So naturally, we Charleston Pirates loyalists razzed Piersall about his, er, erratic personality while he was on the field as a third-base coach.
Only we used much more vivid terms.
Hey, it was 1973.
It was also participatory theater as Piersall played along with mock-manic antics.
These days, it’s deemed not sporting to poke fun at people who have, or have had, emotional problems. Yet it’s still socially acceptable to yell negative remarks at the ballpark.
Especially at umpires.
You can even boo, as many of us did Saturday night, when folks who throw out first balls deliver wild pitches.
And when RiverDogs third baseman Francisco Rosario committed two mental fielding blunders in one inning, one savvy spectator even drew laughs by shouting, “We want A-Rod!”
OK, so that was my wicked verbal curve.
Late in the 20th century, this Charleston native favored upgrading College Park at relatively modest cost rather then spending $19.5 million to build Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park.
E-Me (error on Wooten):
The Ashley-River-side stadium has been a grand baseball venue since opening in 1997.
Kitchen sink nachos
You might see Murray there.
You might even spot that RiverDogs’ co-owner and “director of fun” around town.
This “Caddyshack” devotee saw that local movie star commit a messy-though-comic error — spilling a large coffee — in the Whole Foods checkout line a year or two ago.
The big-league All-Star Game is tonight in New York. But you can see future big leaguers — maybe future All-Stars — here in Charleston when the RiverDogs return on July 25.
So take yourself — and yours — out to some ball games at “The Joe.” Savor innovative concessions that blend into a unique local aroma — especially at low tide. Root, root, root for the home team.
However, if you join in on “The Wave,” that’s a shame.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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