I remember playing ball just for the fun of it, no pressure to win, no coach or adults, just the kids in the neighborhood in an open lot.
I remember using hubcaps, sofa cushions or trashcan lids for bases.
I remember bats were wood, sticks, anything.
I remember the same ball, week in- week out.
I remember there were no travel teams, no elite teams, and no showcases.
I remember buying a bottle of Moxie at a malt shop because Ted Williams said he drank it – worse thing I ever, ever, ever popped a top off.
I remember stuffing a lot of Bazooka Bubble Gum in my mouth and spitting all day long just like the pros did … went home sicker than a dog that night.
I remember the motorcycle cop stopped by because neighbors were complaining of too much noise … he ended up umpiring for a while and told us to keep it down …. everyone wanted to be a motorcycle cop after that night.
I remember how confusing it was when an old abandoned garage burnt down and it was bulldozed over -… that was our out of bounds on the right of the field and really messed up the ground rules something awful.
I remember the A&P had a small vent window that a kid hit a ball through and I got picked to get the ball because I was the new kid.
I remember the A&P store manager giving me back our ball, along with twelve bottles of pop for every kid there – Moxie… yuck!!
I remember choosing up sides – the best kids got picked first regardless who they were, what color was their skin, or being Irish – Italian – Greek – Portuguese – Polish – Porte Rican – Catholic – Lutheran – Jewish – or anything else …. If the kid could run, hit, throw, catch and slide … he was in.
I remember nobody looked at the game as a way to getting into college, the pros or anyplace else – just play.
I remember it didn’t cost anything, not a penny, only to be honest and fair.
I remember my glove was an old Hutch, dirty brown leather with a big brass button holding the hand strap and laces made of shoe leather, string and sometimes lamp cord.
I remember my glove was always on the handlebars of my bike.
I remember piling my bike on top of others – no locks needed.
I remember getting my first pair of spikes, hand-me-downs for a kid next door…. Two sizes too big… but I played with them on anyway.
I remember learning the game by watching and doing – made a ton of mistakes, got better and better.
I remember being chastised by my father for being mean spirited … asking a kid who stuttered to sign the National Anthem when we had enough kids to make up two teams of five each.
I remember the first time I got picked first, by a kid I didn’t even know, when choosing up sides – I still remember how good it felt, I earned it.
I remember embarrassing myself by showing off to a group of girls watching me on the field.
I remember the first time I saw a kid with braces on his legs … he played catcher and everyone agreed … no sliding into home near the catcher.
I remember playing till dark, I remember playing till dark, I remember playing till dark.