Rain and Remembrance

It’s raining like crazy in San Francisco right now, less than three hours before the Giants and Brewers open their season. If it gets rained out, Henry Schulman says they’ll play two tomorrow, because Milwaukee won’t make another trip to the Bay this season. That led Schulman to recall the last time the Giants opened with a doubleheader:

The Giants actually played a season-opening doubleheader in Atlanta in 1990. I covered it. Rich Rueschel, who was supposed to pitch the rained-out opener, beat the Braves in the first game of the doubleheader. The Giants then got beat by Pete Smith in the nightcap.

Smith was still a pretty young pitcher and pretty excited to win on “Opening Day.” When we went to interview him he was so hyped up he offered us writers some chicken wings from the spread. (The answer is no, I didn’t eat any.)

He may have been hyped, and he was still young, but Smith had already pitched 66 games and was beginning his fourth year with the big club in 1990. In fact, he had more games behind him at that point than he had in front of him, at least in an Atlanta Braves uniform. Other fun stuff from that game:

  • Ron Gant leading off and playing centerfield
  • Nick Essasky, seven games away from the end of his career due to vertigo
  • A left side of the Braves infield with a career OBP of .276 over 6000 plate appearances (Jim Presley and Andres Thomas)
  • Starting Catchers: Terry Kennedy and Jody Davis, two dudes who, for some reason, I always mixed up when I was a kid
  • Dan Quisenberry pitching one of his 38 career games for a team other than the Royals, which violates some law of Nature
  • Opening day attendance of 11,082.
  • Blessed with a lot of time on my hands and a girlfriend who actually liked baseball (her only redeeming trait), I’m pretty sure I watched more ballgames that spring, summer and fall than anytime before or since. The Braves had something like 144 on TBS that year, and we’d get about 50 Reds games where I was at the time as well. Between those, whatever national games were on, and the playoffs, I easily took in parts of 200 games that year.

    Yeah, we’re in a different world now.

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    200 games?  Man, when the Extra Innings Package came out a few years ago, and my brother and I were living together, we watched nearly every Phillies game, almost every Dodgers game that carried the Vin Scully broadcast, any start made by any knuckler, and, well, a lot of others.  The TV was set to baseball from the time one of us got home until the last inning of the west coast’s last game.  Our estimate for that season and the next—parts of 1000 games. 

    Extra Innings: awesome.

    Craig Calcaterra
    Craig Calcaterra

    Well, yeah, but 1990 was ancient history as far as this kind of things goes, especiall in West Virginia.  And when I say parts of 200 games, I mean substantial parts, as in at least half of two games but often more than that on a given day.  Anyone can flip between 15 games a night now.

    Well, I can’t, because my wife won’t let me get Extra Innings, but you know what I mean.

    Oh, we had rules, because when we first tried to estimate, things were getting out of hand.  Any fewer than three innings, and the game didn’t count as viewed. The TV was set to baseball for 6-12 hours, per day, for six straight months.  I’m not trying to brag about the difference in our most overdone baseball viewing summers—I’m just amazed by the difference in what’s possible.  In 1990, you watched 200 games, and that accounted for almost every game broadcast on whatever stations you received.  I watched 1,000 and that represents probably about 75% of the games broadcast into… Read more »