Kaplan: My favorite player, Ron Hunt

From SABR member Dave Kaplan at The National Pastime Museum on March 10, 2014:

My childhood in a small upstate New York town in the early 1960s was a time of unsupervised innocence and the powerful appeal of baseball. “The Sandlot” wrapped into “the Wonder Years.”

Like many average American kids, the connection to my main interests came in the much-anticipated waxed packs of baseball cards and an ever-present transistor radio. Pop music and baseball were our soundtracks of summer. In 1964, a few of my favorite players wore moptops and simple black suits, and would later pack Shea Stadium one memorable night, cranking their hits to a fan frenzy never seen before.

But in the same year as Beatlemania, I was more enraptured by a guy with a crewcut and dirty uniform who continually got plunked by pitches, exciting a different kind of crowd at Shea. The Fab Four was adored by millions, but Ron Hunt was my Fab One.

Being 7 years old, it wasn’t easy being a fan of the fledgling New York Mets, a team of has-beens and never-weres, many of them over-the-hill Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants on their last legs. But the Mets were the new  team, our team. They were laughable and lovable losers, not the cold and corporate Yankees, who after the ’64 season fired the beloved Yogi Berra for the unpardonable sin of guiding an aging, injured team to a World Series berth in his rookie year as manager.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/my-favorite-player-ron-hunt

Originally published: March 11, 2014. Last Updated: March 11, 2014.