Bob Howell

There was plenty of excitement to go around when the Atlanta Braves won the World Series over the Astros in Houston last week. A die-hard group of Braves fans made the trip to Texas and made as much championship noise as possible. 

Meanwhile back in A-town, the same was true for the Braves fans who stayed behind but made it to the Braves stadium to cheer on their team. Of course, the number of people watching the games of the Series was much higher if you count the folks catching the games on television. You can thank Ted Turner for the brilliant move to put the Braves on cable TV way back in the early days of satellite programming. These new fans were the senior citizens.

I was reminded of this segment when my old friend Alex Streyer wrote on social media in the aftermath of the Braves winning the World Series. He said his mama was celebrating up in heaven. Mrs. Streyer was like millions of seniors who were widows and widowers that continued to watch the Braves after his or her spouse had gone on to that golden diamond in the sky.

Way back in the day, if a surveyor for one of the TV ratings companies had asked me to guess the number of seniors watching baseball on a regular basis, I would have put it so low as to hardly show up. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that seniors watching baseball is a substantial number, it is only a trend that I’ve observed.

Take, for instance, my Aunt Pauline, who lived out her final days on earth in front of her television set watching, among other channels, WTBS out of Atlanta. It was where she could catch all the home and away Braves games ... and believe you me, she did just that. I learned quickly to expect a sweet but brief reply if I called when the Braves were on ... especially if it was a close game.

My aunt was first introduced to the Braves by her late husband. They had a nice console TV which was tuned to WTBS for all the Braves games. If she wanted to be with my uncle during “Braves time,” she’d better learn all about who’s who in a Braves uniform, not to mention the rules of the game.

A couple of years after my dad died, I took my mother on a quick “drop in” visit with several of her friends in Geneva. 

On one stop, at Elizabeth Jones’ home, we found Mrs. Jones back in her den, watching the Braves and listening to her police scanner. She welcomed us warmly, inviting us to catch a couple of innings of the Braves and to see if the local state trooper had arrested a potential robber a few minutes ago. Turns out, the Braves lost and the robbery suspect eluded capture. But despite Atlanta’s loss and the suspect’s eluding capture, we had a terrific visit and did some serious “catching up” on the old hometown.

My mother was the exception to so many of our family when it came to watching sports on television. She preferred watching any good old black-and-white film or listening to music from the 1930s or '40s. 

When I was elementary school aged, I remember my mother letting my dad put up a special FM radio antenna on a mast adjacent to a window in the kitchen. The antenna was connected to an FM radio so Daddy could listen to baseball games from distant radio stations. 

Even after Daddy’s passing more than 25 years ago, I still remember how important radio and later TV was to folks who loved their spouses and sports!

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