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WOSTER: Pheasants during the great fall classic

I tend to link pheasant hunting with the World Series, even though when I was young and a hunter the Series probably ended just about the time the pheasant season opened.

Terry Woster
Terry Woster

I tend to link pheasant hunting with the World Series, even though when I was young and a hunter the Series probably ended just about the time the pheasant season opened.

This year the pheasant season opens Saturday. Last weekend was a residents' only pheasant season. Before that, there was a youth season. Those things didn't exist when I was young. The pheasant season opened once, on one specific Saturday. I gather the additional seasons offer more hunting opportunities.

When I hunted as a youngster, the Series ended in mid-October. Of course, that was a time when the baseball team with the most regular season wins in the American League would meet the team with the most regular season wins in the National League in the World Series. Over the years, like South Dakota's wildlife managers have done with the pheasant seasons, baseball has added league championships, league sub-championships (or whatever they're called) and wild card games. I gather the added playoff games give fans more opportunities to see some baseball.

Back in 1965, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Minnesota Twins in a seven-game World Series. Sandy Koufax was a monster on the mound. I did a search of MLB sites for some details, and I confirmed that he won the fifth and seventh games to clinch the crown. He pitched complete games both times, and both games were shutouts. And he did it on two days' rest, throwing nothing but fastballs for nine innings of the seventh game, for those who appreciate talent and grit.

I mention it here not only because it's a performance worth remembering but also because the seventh game of that series fell on Oct. 14. That was last Saturday's date, which this year was right when professional baseball began its league championship series. According to the schedule on the MLB site, the actual World Series opens next Tuesday, Oct. 24. If it goes a full seven games, it will end in November - the first of November to be sure, but still November. To an old-timer that seems late for a fall classic. I can't be the only dinosaur who thinks that, can I? (Reggie Jackson. Mr. November?)

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Anyway, I have this image of me rattling down a gravel road in a road-weary pickup, watching the ditches for pheasants while my cousin Leo fiddles with the AM radio dial, tuning out the static to catch the faint play-by-play of an afternoon Series game. In my mind, it's usually a Dodgers-Yankees game for some reason. That used to be a Series constant.

It's likely that we weren't hunting at all in that pickup, simply traveling from one weekend chore to another. That's what we did on fall weekends back then; we went to the farm and worked. Feeding cattle isn't as romantic an image as two kids out chasing pheasants and working the tuning knob on the pickup radio to catch a Series game, though, so I'm going to keep on remembering the Series and the pheasant season sharing the same moments in time.

I know this much. Wherever we were headed in that pickup, we were crawling along, stretching the drive to the next field or pasture so we could catch half an inning of play-by-play and a score. And I know this, too: It would drive us dashboard-pounding wild when the announcer's voice faded or a burst of static filled the speaker. It took the determination of a Sandy Koufax to follow even part of a World Series game out in the middle of South Dakota in those days.

These days, we'd each have a set of earbuds, probably wireless, and the call of the game would be clean and clear. No, wait, that's old-fashioned. We'd have an MLB app on the phone with a live feed of the game on the screen as we tromped the field. We'd miss some birds while staring at the screen, but we'd catch the Series.

The world is in the palms of our hands these days, whether in a pheasant field or a feedlot. I kind of liked it when a kid had to show some grit to make that connection.

Related Topics: TERRY WOSTER
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