My first press box was in our family room, ten feet from the television. Every Saturday morning during baseball season, I pulled Mom's manual Olympia typewriter off a closet shelf, set it on a small table, and typed up a three- or four-paragraph preview of the NBC "Major League Game of the Week." My brother, Jim, who was four years younger than I was, would do research, looking up statistics in the Toledo Blade sports section. He was very thorough for a seven-year-old, giving me all the information I asked for. We wrote about the starting pitchers, about who was hitting well, about what to expect in the game. My stories had a circulation of six -- five not counting me: my father, a former high school tackle and shot putter who once had a tryout with the Chicago Bears; my mother; and my siblings. There were four Brennan children; I was born in May of 1958, my sister Kate in November of 1959, Jim in June of 1962, and my sister Amy in August of 1967.
Those little stories flew off my fingertips. I had read hundreds of articles about baseball in the Blade, the Toledo Times, and the Detroit Free Press. I also had some previous writing experience. My parents gave me a diary for Christmas of 1968. It had a blue and green floral print on the cover and a lock that I never used. My first entry, on January 1, 1969, was typical of what I believed my diary should be: "Woke up late after staying up last night to wait for the New Year. After lunch, went to the Sports Arena to ice skate. After that, watched the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl. In the Rose Bowl, Ohio State won over USC, 27-16. In the Orange Bowl, Penn State won over Kansas, 15-14."
I sounded like a stringer for the Associated Press.
Barely a day went by when I did not report in my diary the score of a University of Toledo Rockets basketball game, or an NFL play-off game, or, when spring came, the score of a Toledo Mud Hens or a Detroit Tigers game or the Saturday "Game of the Week." My entries also covered the daily activities of a girl turning eleven: memorizing spelling words, going to classes at the Toledo Museum of Art, skating on someone's frozen backyard. My entry for February 28 was particularly memorable:
"Today I begged my Dad to try to get tickets for the Rockets' game tomorrow against Miami (O.). It is Steve Mix's last game. Daddy will try to get tickets."
Steve Mix was the first big sports superstar I idolized. He was the University of Toledo basketball team's six-seven, 220-pound center. With his broad shoulders and tree-trunk arms, Mix lumbered through the key and under the basket like a giant, and we loved him for it.
"The Mixmaster!" Dad would yell, his deep voice booming above the crowd, as Mix grabbed a rebound and threw his elbows side to side, churning like a blender to protect the ball. I would look up and smile at my father, a big block of a man at six feet and two hundred pounds, with a quarter-inch crew cut and black-rimmed glasses.
And when Mix laid in a basket, rolling it off his fingertips as he blew through the lane "like a freight train," as Dad said, we cheered mightily.