A Thousand Deaths - by winning
The best year of my life. I died a thousand deaths each time the Phils lost in the playoffs. The worst thing about the 70's was that my parents had been through all of that with the '64 team. I think that they just gave up all hope after that. They used to make fun of my loyalty and tried to brace me for what they said would be an annual eventuality. My mom went so far as bet against me by taking the Dodgers in '78. Little did she know that when they beat the Phils that I would place all blame on her. Twelve year olds with unhealthy fixations don't see the world too clearly. In fact, when the Phils fell out of the race in '79 I spent a lot of September hoping (and I mean REALLY praying) for the Pirates plane to go down.
So, as you could guess, every turn of the screw in '80 was just torture. I tried to listen to my parent's advise to not get too excited after a big win and to accept big losses as simply the fate of a preordained loser. But I just couldn't. I was too far gone. So when Bake hit that shot in August against the Expos, I yelled,"That's it! We're on top for good!". Then, when that game was followed by the losing streak, I didn't crack a smile for days.
Throughout September and October I could sense my parent's carefully constructed defense mechanisms being unbolted after huge wins against the NL East only to be thrown back up in the LCS. I truly believe those stories about all the heart attacks in Philly being attributed to those five games. My dad had to listen by himself on the radio, I stood on the sofa during rallies and my grandmother gave the 'evil eye' to the Astros on the T.V. Only my grandfather watched with any sense of perspective, but that was because he was an A's fan whose heart was surgically removed by the Mack's.
When Tug finally put an end to The Series, he also put an ending to a very special chapter of my life. It was a five year crescendo that has been unmatched since. Sure, there have been many more "important" things happen in my life that I will be eternally grateful for. I even stopped caring about baseball in high school and college, but that summer will forever be my topper. If in my old age I get stricken with memory loss, I will probably forget many, many things before I forget Ron Reed's cartwheel, or Pete Rose's bouncing the ball on the turf, or Chris Wheeler yelping in the background of the press box, or... God, there are so many.