Thursday, May 3, 2012

Batter Up!!

I had an entire blog post ready to go, checked the preview,  hit the wrong button and lost the entire thing.  Rut Roh.  Now I have to remember what I wrote and I can't even remember what I had for breakfast.  Where the heck is that little popup when you need it?  You know the one that says, "Are you sure you want to delete this, Stupid?"

I've been a bit busy with assorted springtime activities; one, of which, is my grandson's baseball games.  He plays on a team of eleven-year-old boys.  They have spiffy uniforms, caps, shoes, etc.  He'll play over 50 games between April and June, not to mention practice at least twice a week.  No longer can kids just walk down the street and grab a game at the neighborhood park.  Boys this age come in all sizes.  Some are short, quick and very agile; others are tall, lanky and a bit awkward.  It's heart-warming to watch the smallest kid on the team get the biggest hit.

Playing ball was a bit different in a small town in the 50's. We would gather at the empty lot next to the Catholic church or on the street in front of someone's house.  The size of our field depended on the vicinity of the nearest windows.  Our bases were marked with assorted rocks or pieces of clothing.  Nothing worse than the wrath of your mother if your discarded jacket had been used for second base.  Everyone would bring whatever equipment they could find or borrow.  Assorted bats and gloves were used by one and all.  Many kids didn't have a glove so they borrowed the glove of the batter until they needed it again.  Hopefully someone would bring a ball that was somewhat round and not coming apart at the seams.  Most of the time we used a softball because they were not so apt to break a window.

On days that we happened to gather at the church lot, Father LaValette would sometimes join us dressed in his black cassock standing behind home plate as umpire.  There was never any arguments or whining about being called out on strikes when Father played with us.

Most small towns had a men's team that would play neighboring towns for bragging rights.  Some churches and clubs would also have ball teams.  If there was a ballgame scheduled, they would set up an easel sign in the middle of main street that said "BALLGAME TONIGHT".  The whole town would show up.

 We also had a pretty good women's team and I can remember my mother pitched for a couple of years.  One day there was a knock on the back door and when I looked out I saw one of the big kids from the neighborhood standing there with his bat and glove.  I thought he had come to ask if I would come out and play ball.  Me??  I was so excited.  Upon opening the door, he said, "Can your mom come out and pitch for us?"  I was devastated.  They didn't want me to play, they wanted my mother!!  Did I mentioned she was left handed ... and good?

I played ball all through my grade school years and even on the high school summer team.  Of course, we played fast pitch as there was no such thing as slow pitch in those days.  We had no fancy uniforms, but we had hours of fun.  I remember playing center field at one game with only a small wire fence separating me from a flock of sheep ... Baaaa.

Years later in the late 60's while working in southern Minnesota, I played on a company team.  By that time, fast pitch ball was slowly being phased out and more teams were playing slow pitch.  But there were a few teams and I seem to remember a keg of beer was involved after the games ... loser buying.

My daughter continued the family tradition and began playing on a team when she was about 10 years old. She kept at it through high school and was lucky enough to be part of a Iowa state tournament team.  Her team was beaten in the early rounds, but the tournament atmosphere was a very special experience.

Now she and I sit on the sidelines and watch our son and grandson play the game.  I must admit it is much easier to be out on the field playing the game than it is to sit on the sidelines and agonizingly watch the strikeouts, missed throws and errors.

But there's nothing like the crack of the bat and watching the ball soar over center field....

Oh the fun of sitting in the sunshine with a hot dog, bag of popcorn and something cold to drink, all the while swatting at the bugs.  Then there are the evenings with a cold, wet wind blowing in from right field and you are swaddled in a blanket, coat and hat.  But you wouldn't miss it for the world.

Now if I can remember to hit the right button, we can all say "Batter Up."

1 comment:

  1. Batter up, again and again. Not bad for a second go around! It's a home run!