August 25, 2012
Giving up a Yankee game to watch some history being made
By Michael Lewis
Growing up on Long Island and being a New York Yankees fan, I would never ever give up an opportunity of going to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium.
Or so I thought.
The father of my best friend, Jim Toscano, got tickets for the Yankees game on Sunday, July 20, and he had an extra one. I was asked if I wanted to go. I declined. I wanted to stay home and watch history.
I did not have any regrets at the time and I certainly did not have any now.
On that day, man landed on the moon -- for the first time.
Being a science reality (and fiction) fan, I wanted to stay home and watch history made -- as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon (on Saturday, Armstrong passed away at the age of 82).
I heard that the lunar landing was announced on the stadium's scoreboard as the crowd cheered.
I might have been cheering at home -- after all these years, I have to admit I don't exactly remember -- but I probably beaming with pride and astonishment that man had actually walked on another place besides earth.
I stayed up for most of the night, watching Armstrong take those first historic steps on a black and white TV -- if my memory is working correctly, I believe he did it at around 1:30 a.m. ET -- and uttering those unforgettable words:
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
I remember running out to by the New York Times the next day as the paper blared the headline:
MEN WALK ON THE MOON
Yes, the headline was capitalized, one of the rare times (perhaps only time) it used a headline in capital letters.
I still have that newspaper (I've kept it out of the sun and packed away all these years).
Those were heady and incredible times, 1969.
So much was happening, so much change and so much history being made.
A month after the moon landing, there was Woodstock.
A few months later, the Miracle Mets stunned the world by winning the World Series, leaping from ninth-place to world champions in a season.
Earlier that year, the Jets jolted football world by upsetting the Baltimore Colts to win Super Bowl III, 16-7.
What do you want from a 17-year-old sports-crazy kid?
We also were in the middle of a horrible war in Vietnam, with the country split on whether we should remain in Southeast Asia.
The lunar landing united the country, at least for a time.
We live in different times in 2012. Politically, we are even more split with the left and right having dug their heels in, where if you don't know the latest news immediately, you are considered out of touch.
America had a lot more pioneering spirit at the time and when compromise was not only a word and a concept, but something that opposing political factions actually did. I might sound like an old curmudgeon, making a big deal about the good old days, but we certainly can learn something from those days. Whether we want to is another matter entirely.
I will mourn for Neil Armstrong, who reminded this budding sportswriter to be that there was something else in life besides fun and games.
If a 17-year-old can learn about the importance of life, hopefully millions of Americans today can find a way to recapture that spirit as well.