Baseball was my first love.

I remember learning how to keep score on a scorecard when I was around 7 years old. I would draw my own scorecard, including cartoon logos, and then fill it out while watching my beloved Philadelphia Phillies on television. Remember Philly’s my hometown: “In west Philadelphia, born and raised…”

I’d live and die every day with my Phillies. When they won, it was a good day. When they lost, it wasn’t. I was a serious fan.

My dad would take me to games every now and then at the old Connie Mack Stadium. I rooted for my heroes wearing the red pinstripes and red caps – even when the visitors included such stars as the San Francisco Giants’ Willie Mays.

I nearly died, for real, when I was bedridden with pneumonia in late summer 1964 – after getting sick at summer camp – and my Phillies blew the National League pennant. They had a six and a half game lead with 12 games left and proceeded to lose 10 in a row. This classic choke nearly killed me before my 10th birthday.

I’ve stayed a baseball fan ever since – even through the strike-shortened 1981 season, the strike-canceled 1994 postseason and through the steroids era of the late 1980s through the late 2000s. I’ve lived in Huntsville since 1968 and I root these days for the Chicago Cubs.

But I’m worried. The Houston Astros cheating scandal diminishes their 2017 world championship. Their manager and their general manager got fired but the players so far haven’t been punished for their actions. That just doesn’t seem right.

I’m still a baseball fan but I’m afraid the integrity of the game has suffered another lasting blow.

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