173. Growing up Playing Baseball

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When Johnny was a kid, all he talked about was becoming a baseball star. Of course he wasn't alone. Most young boys growing up in the United States want to become a major league baseball player at one time or another. He remembers watching his favorite players on TV when he was young, and how his father would take him to see the Giants play at Candlestick Park.

Johnny recalls the old stadium, and how big it seemed to him as a child. His dad took him onto the field one day when the team was having a photo day. Johnny couldn't believe how big the field was. All his favorite Giants were there taking pictures with fans. "Can I take a picture with Willie Mays, dad?" Johnny asked gleefully. "Of course, Johnny. Let's get in line," said his dad. Willie Mays was one of the greatest players to ever play the game, and he loved kids, too. That is why the line to take a picture with him was so long. Johnny didn't mind though. He was in baseball heaven.

The Giants played their archrival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, that day. There had always been a bit of bad blood between the two teams over the years. It started when both teams were based in New York. They were cross-town rivals at that time. After the teams moved to California in the late 1950s, the rivalry continued.

The Dodgers were always one of the better teams in the National League, and even though Johnny grew up a Giants fan, he really didn't hate the Dodgers. "I think the rivalry was blown up, to tell the truth," Johnny said years later. Baseball fans are very fickle and stubborn though, and some play the rivalry up as much as they can. No true Dodger, or Giant fan would ever admit liking the other team in public, but Johnny suspects there is a mutual respect for each team in both cities.

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