Playing Ball at Memory Park (ms)

I don’t think about, read about or wonder about baseball as much as I once did. The game has become one played by millionaires for the enrichment of other millionaires and, judging by the admission and eats at a game, open mostly to those with more than a few bucks in their pockets.

To my way of thinking Little League is still at least somewhat representative of the game, and remember it is only a game. Kids don’t go out and play for money; they play for the run, the hit, the sound of the crowd cheering, the spirit and love of the game, all the things you really ought to play for. Little League has progressed though and out of necessity has changed with the times so there are corporate sponsors and the like. More power to them if that’s needed to keep the League going around the world; It gives kids an opportunity to play baseball and that is a good thing. I did a story once with a guy of about forty who came to the Little League World Series years before as a pitcher. As we walked out onto the field I asked if he remembered it well and the story he told was as fresh and clear as if the game happened the day before. Memories are fine things.

The good old days of pro baseball were a lot more fun, a lot more interesting. Only a few rules here and there to keep things somewhat civil, dirt and grass on the field, hot summer afternoons and a crowd of thousands brought to a hush by the weight of the next swing of the batter. The characters were remarkable as well. As a kid I read books about them and loved their nicknames, their antics on and off the field, the memories they made for all who came to watch the game, or to listen.

Radio was big back then and every house had at least one centered in the front room. Each evening the family would gather round to listen to the shows and later to baseball games. On warm summer nights folks would bring their radios closer to the front door so everyone could sit out, catch a breath of air and listen to a game at the same time. Depending on the neighborhood you could walk up a street and listen to the same game on different radios for the whole block. There were only three kinds of sounds to be heard beyond the game itself: groans, cheers and the clink of ice cubes in a glass.

One final story and I’ll let you go. I was at the town park the other evening taking some pictures in the nearby creek, trying to capture the sense of late summer, the dog days. I finished my work, put the cameras away and caught sight of a man and three boys having a little fielding, pitching and catching practice each trading places with the other for a few pitches; a round robin kind of routine. The man, I think he was the father of one of the boys, offered comment, the kids hit then ran to base, maybe tagged out but surely moved on to the next position. There were no winners, it was just practice, a nice way to spend a pretty summer evening. Maybe I should look for more moments like that, maybe I’d enjoy baseball again.

~ by admin on August 20, 2011.

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