Teacher

I thought I knew almost everything about my younger brother.  Something fell through the cracks, as the saying goes, and that something happened over 50 years ago.  Here’s the short version.

My brother and I grew up in Louisiana with a passion for baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the early ‘50’s. We listened to their games coming over KMOX from St. Louis. Two young boys on the floor in front of one of those three-foot high console radios. Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Solly Hemus, Vinegar Bend Mizell and so many others. We knew their names as well as we knew our own.

Fast forward to an October afternoon, 1964. My brother is in high school. I am in the Navy, attending Hospital Corps School at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, California. (Sometime back in the Baytown Sun I included the following few words in an article I wrote about listening to baseball on the radio. I must repeat this particular story again as it is central to what I am relating about my brother.)

It’s important to note that in 1964 World Series games were not played at night.  They were all day games.

I’ll tell my side of the story first.  That fall the St. Louis Cardinals were playing the New York Yankees. I had a problem. I was in a classroom situation at the naval hospital in classes taught by Navy nurses in starched white uniforms.  Officer Navy nurses. It was the World Series, though, and I was not about to miss a single pitch.  

I had a plan.  Hidden under the top half of my Navy uniform was a small transistor radio. I cleverly positioned myself at the rear of the class so that ear plug and wire leading to the radio were undetected.

Sitting slightly half-turned in my chair, I listened (or pretended to be listening) to the lecture going on. My mind was on the baseball game.

Everything was shipshape until suddenly and inexplicably the connection to the radio came unplugged. Had I shifted in my seat too often? All the exciting sounds of a baseball game over the radio came blaring forth in that classroom.

The lecture stopped, of course.  All eyes turned in my direction. I got in so much trouble! I thought I would be kicked out of hospital corps school and sent to the fleet.  Peeling potatoes and chipping paint on a ship seemed to be in my immediate future.

I received quite a dressing down.  I can attest to the fact that Navy nurses do not take kindly to their classroom lectures being interrupted by a baseball game.

The years have dulled exactly what happened next. For whatever reason, I was allowed to remain in school. I’d like to think it was because of the aptitude I was showing for being a Navy corpsman. If my radio was returned to me, it was not until after the World Series was over.

I was telling my brother this story recently, and I could tell he was patiently (well, not that patiently) waiting until I finished. Then his words came pouring out. “You were listening to one of the games. I was listening to one of the games.”

He was in study hall in the library.  Like me, he wasn’t going to let being in a school classroom setting interfere with a World Series game. After all, this was the St. Louis Cardinals. He did the same transistor radio trick I had done. Only he didn’t get caught.

We stared at each other and just shook our heads. Could it have been the same game, the same afternoon?  Two brothers listening surreptitiously to the same World Series game roughly 1,400 miles apart. Amazing! It certainly makes for a good story.

My tale ends there. Two brothers, each with a love for a game and a team, who settled on the same solution (albeit with different results) to not miss the play-by-play of a World Series baseball game.

One last thing. My brother knows today I bleed Houston Astros orange and blue. He also knows, like him, I still find something magical in that iconic image of two redbirds perched on a yellow baseball bat.

Ken Bredehoeft is a retired school teacher who lives in Mont Belvieu. 

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