...Gerry AbellI’ve been a sports fan my entire life. When I was growing up my favorite baseball team was the St. Louis Cardinals, who played in the original Busch Stadium. If they weren’t on TV, I didn’t miss a game listening to them on the radio with Jack Buck and Mike Shannon broadcasting the games every night.
I grew up in the 70s when there were only 3 TV stations to choose from. I never missed the “NBC Game of the Week” on Saturday afternoon.
I also was a fan of the Miami Dolphins, back when they played at the Orange Bowl. Their quarterback was Bob Griese, who was from my hometown of Evansville, Indiana, so I felt a connection to the team!
I didn’t have a favorite basketball team, but I did enjoy watching Dr. J (Julius Erving) play for the 76’ers and watching the Celtics play at The Boston Garden.
Living in Evansville, Indiana, I was within 3 hours of St. Louis and 4 hours of Cincinnati. Those were the closest towns for any major sporting event.
We had a minor league farm team, the Evansville Triplets, who were the AAA affiliate for the Cincinnati Reds in the mid-70s before switching to the Detroit Tigers.
Every game I watched I wanted to know what it was like to be there in person, so when I saw another game on TV from there I'd know what it was like to be there. I decided in those years that when I grew up I wanted to go to as many stadiums as I could.
I have been able to keep that goal and since I was 23 years old, I’ve been to at least one new stadium, ballpark or arena every year.
In college, I had the opportunity to meet Tom LaSorda, the former manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The next baseball season after I met him, he gave me tickets to their game against the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis, in the section with the players wives and their families.
After that game, I sent him a thank you letter for the tickets and he sent back a personally autographed postcard that you see below.
Don Mattingly, the former captain of the New York Yankees and current manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is also from Evansville, Indiana. I had a chance to meet him a few years ago after he retired from playing baseball.
This is a photo of me taken with Don and his family at their home in Evansville.
His jersey number has since been retired by the New York Yankees and he is honored at Memorial Park in Yankee Stadium with all of the other Yankee greats.
This is a photo taken in Kansas City, the night before the Chiefs played the Dallas Cowboys at the Kansas City Chiefs stadium, Arrowhead Stadium. Along with me are Dale Carter, the public address announcer for the Chiefs games, Juan Alonzo, the mayor of Raymore, Missouri and our wives.
I hope you've enjoyed getting to know me a little more. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to drop me a note. If you send it through my Contact page, I'll be sure to get it.
All the best,