My sons started the first grade this year… and that makes me feel older than my 39 years.
First grade was a significant grade for me and it led directly to this blog you are currently reading and everything Sully Baseball.
Let me explain.
When I was in nursery school and kindergarten, I watched baseball with my parents and my grandfather and our wonderful neighbor/baby sitter/member of the family Mrs. Bianchi.
And I also liked baseball cards. But all I was interested in was seeing all the different teams a player played on. I called it the “Year Club.” (That’s what it said on top of the card. Year. Club. So naturally it was the Year Club.)
But I didn’t know who was a good player (unless they were a Kellogg’s 3D Super Star!)
All of that changed in the first grade.
The first day of school in September of 1978 I was blissfully unaware of the massacre that the Yankees were giving the Red Sox. I hadn’t understood how the playoffs worked and I wasn’t following the day to day events of a baseball team.
Instead I was sitting in a classroom where Mrs. Bresciani asked us to draw something we did during our summer vacation.
My aunt Mary and uncle Marty had taken my brother and me to Yankee Stadium that year and it made quite an impression on me.
So a 6 year old Sully drew Yankee Stadium as best as I could.
Mrs. Bresciani saw the drawing and asked me if I liked baseball. I said I did.
I also liked Star Wars, Batman and Sid and Marty Kroftt shows.
Mrs. Bresciani told me that her husband worked for the Red Sox. I wondered if he was a player.
Instead I found out he was the statistician for the Red Sox.
So all throughout first grade, I learned how to spell, add, subtract and reading comprehension
But I also learned what all of those numbers on the back of the baseball card meant.
I would ask what an RBI was. What a save was. Why some pitchers get a win and others don’t. Why do some pitchers start and some don’t.
I even learned what batting average and ERA were (even if the division was a little over my head.)
I knew if you batted .300 or more you were really good.
I know if your ERA was under 3.50 you were really good.
So all of those baseball cards stopped being pictures of players and the key to understanding their value to a team.
Mrs. Bresciani taught me how to keep score and I would sometimes bring a piece of paper and a pencil out to recess and keep score of a kick ball game.
At Halloween, she brought in Jerry Remy’s uniform for us to see. It was like seeing the Shroud of Turin.
And when the 1979 season began, I REALLY followed baseball. Day in and day out I read the box scores and checked the standings. The Red Sox were good that year but no match for the Baltimore Orioles.
I knew all the players. I knew who was doing well. Who was hurt. And in 1979 there was Carl Yastrzemski’s chase for 3,000 hits and 400 homers.
My favorite player was Butch Hobson. But I crowned him my favorite player before Mrs. Bresciani taught me about stats. I made Butch my favorite because I liked the name Butch.
In 1979 I understood that Jim Rice and Fred Lynn were better players.
The seed was planted in the first grade. And from that seed did an obsessive compulsive tree grow!
So as MY boys start their first grade voyage, I am continuing mine to this day.
Dick Bresciani is now the Vice President of Publications and Archives with the Red Sox and often appears on TV talking about Sox history.
If you are still out there, Mrs. Bresciani, thanks for teaching me what an RBI is.
And be thankful I wasn’t asking “What is the difference between OPS+, VORP and WAR?”