Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The Fiction of the Home Team
The sale of All-Star centerfielder Curtis Granderson by the Tigers to the Yankees—a matter of collective woe to that part of our clan living in Detroit—produces memories. The first of these, for me, is of watching FSV Tirschenreuth play soccer. Never heard of this famous team? It played (and plays) against the likes of SC04 Marktredwitz, SV Waldsassen, and SV Schönhaid. FSV is the German acronym for Football Sports Club, and the members of this team in my day were all sons of the small community of Tirschenreuth in Bavaria, thus our own. The club was our home team. We also had both male and female handball teams we followed with great enthusiasm. Watching the games cost nothing. We just hiked out to the distant railway station and from there, another quarter mile, to the field. No benches, either. And our passions for these teams ran high. Other reflections rise: passionately rooting for Argentina in the World Cup Soccer finals of 1986 because Roberto, our foreign exchange son that year, came from there—and the joy of victory! For a brief time, in those days, Argentina was our team. Other emotional highs come to mind, most potently the 1987 World Series in which we saw the Minnesota Twins triumph first over the Tigers—who later became our team—and then over the St. Louis Cardinals. Heroic names still echo from that time: Gary Gaetti on third, Kent (“Buy Yourself a Vowel”) Hrbeck on first, Kirby Puckett the mighty slugger in center field, and that awesome closer Juan Berenger: how we exulted when he finally came on… But in these later cases, the players came from all over the world; virtually none was a native son; and, for that matter, we ourselves were strangers from a strange land temporarily parking in some city that, at the beckoning of job opportunities, we were as likely to leave as the players we loved to watch were likely to depart to bolster some other team. Odd, isn’t it. Much as exchange students became real children to us, so players from South America, and from nearer but still distant places, became our local heroes, and teams with no real local linkage except ownership became home teams. We live in worlds much less rooted in the physical than we realize.