Rick Houser: My reward for working hard

Last night I was watching a Cincinnati Reds baseball game and I heard the announcer comment that there is about one week left to the regular season. My first thought was how a season that is made up of 162 games could be almost over. I’m not really sure why but baseball has always been my first love of sports. I think this is so as it was the first professional sport that was in Cincinnati. Also this is the very first professional ball team ever and it was formed right here in Cincinnati. So even from a very young age I followed the Reds on the radio mostly and on television when they were broadcast which in my youth wasn’t too often. So being tuned to a good radio was a very important part of being a good fan.

Clermont County’s Rick Houser has released a second book, this one titled “Memories from the Heart.”

In 1961 the Reds were predicted to finish last in the national League but I was a dye hard fan and had yet to learn that the term of the odds were against them. However as the season began and moved forward the Reds were spending almost all of the time in first place! They never got too far ahead of the other teams and would slip out of first once in a while but I was listening to them as they played every game. (I missed hearing two games and they were the second game on the west coast of double headers and at the age of eleven I would fall asleep no matter how hard I tried.) The only good thing was my brother Ben would tell me how the games went and the scores. You see he too was a very avid Reds fan also.

As the season came near to the end it was pretty sure they were going to be playing in the post season. Yep our last place Reds were gonna go to the World Series! This was the most exciting thing to happen that I could think of and everyone was talking about it and since I had heard most all of the games I could interject comments and statistics that adults accepted from me as pretty good points.

In early September of that year I went to the old trunk in my bedroom and dug down to and old sock that was holding all the money I had earned working for neighboring farmers helping them to put in their hay and also the same with their tobacco. This I earned a lot of it dong but I also did odd jobs that Ben had sub contracted to me. Such as mixing concrete or (hod as it was called) and carrying concrete blocks to a man building a cistern. I laid the money on my bed and counted almost 163.00 dollars. That was every penny I had earned on my own that entire year. But as I looked at my earnings I came to a major decision. I was going to go to the mail order catalog and order one of the newest appliances. I was going to order a transistor radio! With that device I would be able to listen to the Reds games in the fields or barns or maybe even sneak it into the classroom. (They came with an ear piece that when plugged in only I would be able to hear it.) At least that was what it said in the catalog.

I had only one obstacle but it was a big one. I was going to have to get my dad to say I could buy it. So since this was going to be a major chance I decided to look through the Spiegel Catalog and maybe order as much as I could get by with. I chose the Spiegel as it was higher in price and at my age I was positive that costing more had to be better. With a completed order form and my sock of cash I went to dad and ask to talk to him. He said of course and listened. When I was done he agreed to the radio as I did want to listen to the Reds but a pricey ball cap and a pair of sun glasses were vetoed. Still I got to buy a couple of small items that at this time I can’t recollect and probably never will but I did order an RCA transistor radio! It was white in color and came with the earphone and an extra nine volt battery.

Dad took me to the bank where I bought a money order and we mailed the ordered right from the post office. I can only express how very grown up I felt getting to do all this. In a couple of weeks a package arrived in the mail with my name on it. I ripped the package open and placed a battery in it and turned it on. I must tell you all that no radio ever had such a high quality sound to it as that one did.

During this time The Cincinnati Reds clinched the pennant and learned that their opponent was to be the New York Yankees. Not just a strong Yankees team but the 1961 Yankees that even today is considered one of the best teams ever to play the game. To me it made no matter. You see I was true blue fan and no matter how much I knew they were awesome I knew the Reds were going to upset them. (I was a real homer.) The World Series began and I was ready with my new transistor radio in my shirt pocket and my ear piece in my ear.

I guess here was when I should have seen this to be a bad omen. I dropped my pocket knife onto the road I was walking on and as I bent over to pick it up the radio fell out of the shirt pocket and landed on the black top! I quickly picked it up and I couldn’t hear a sound. I messed with the volume and the channel knobs but to little avail. Devastated and in a panic I worked at it frantically. Eventually I did get some sound back and I could tune in the channel the game was on. The thing was that was the only channel I was able to tune in and the volume was so weak that the ear piece became not just an extra but a necessity if I was to hear. Last but not least the Reds were losing to the Yankees. That just made the damage to the radio feel even worse.

As proud of my newly purchased new transistor radio the more hurt I felt. The more I thought about it the more I remembered I had spent more money than I really should have. The Cincinnati Reds lost the World Series in five game to the New York Yankees and worst of all I was barely able to hear it. It wasn’t long after the world series I laid that radio down somewhere and I honestly can’t recall just where or what happened to it. For a brief time I felt like a real king of the hill but just like all things being the king on the hill doesn’t last forever. However it sure could have lasted a bit longer and just maybe the Yankees could have choked.

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you are interested in reading more of his stories they can be found in his books ‘There are Places to Remember” and’ Memories ARE from the Heart.” He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.