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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: October Classic Sore Throat

Remember when World Series games were daytime affairs?

Oh the agony for any kid in love with the national pastime.

Because the games were played in the afternoon three possibilities existed for kids wanting to follow the action of the weekday games.

Fenway_Park_1967_World_Series.jpeg Fenway Park, 1967 World Series

First, there was the off chance that your teacher would wheel in one of those county-issued black-and-white televisions that never quite had a concept of vertical hold. Usually the set would be delivered midway through the game. You’d miss a couple of innings while somebody jiggled to get the rabbit ears just right, but eventually you’d get to see some of the game.

The transistor-in-the-desk routine brought risk. To execute this covert action the radio had to be hidden with the play-by-play relayed through an ear plug. If more than one or two kids were leaning on their hands listening, the aligned stillness would raise a red flag that resulted in trouble. Think Otto Preminger from Stalag 17 finding a tunnel under barracks No. 3. Busted.

Waking up with a sore throat served as my most dependable option.

In the Chastain family you didn’t fake a headache because watching television would be off limits. And an upset stomach limited your diet to Coca-Cola and jelly toast.

I’m telling you, being a kid in the ’60s was tough duty.

Which brings me to the 1967 World Series between the Red Sox and the Cardinals. I’d gotten caught up in that whole “Impossible Dream” Red Sox thing that season, watching them win a four-team race to claim the American League pennant. Playoff games did not exist in 1967. If a team wasn’t in first place of either league at the end of the regular season, its season came to a close.

Dad bought our first color TV that summer. I remember being struck by the brilliant hue of the Fenway Park’s left field known affectionately as the “Green Monster” along with the dynamic Red Sox, a team of destiny led by hard-ass manager Dick Williams and star players Jim Lonborg and Carl Yastrzemski.

Once Lonborg got the nod to start Game 2 on a Thursday afternoon, I wasn’t about to let school get in the way. Thus, I awoke on Oct. 5, 1967 with a sore throat so incapacitating that attending Henry Grady Elementary that day wasn’t possible. Normally my mother would easily fall for such hi jinx. In this case she went rogue by calling my bluff and hauling me off to see Dr. Greiwe.

Fortunately, Dr. Greiwe understood sports as well as he did medicine. When he examined my throat, I’m certain to this day that he read the desperation of a 10-year old boy backed against the wall: World Series, sore throat, what the hell…

“I see some redness down there,” he told my mother.

That diagnosis delivered me to hallowed ground.

Guilt-ridden for ever doubting her middle son, my mother bought me lunch at the Curry’s Pharmacy fountain along with a copy of SPORT Magazine and some throat lozenges. We arrived home just in time for the first pitch. Lonborg pitched a one-hit shutout and Yastrzemski homered twice in a 5-0 Red Sox win.

Just think about all the ills cured by the World Series being played at night.

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