I Remember


#1

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.


#2

I remember treasuring a cracked bat we found in the trash and “fixing it” with some of the old mans electric tape

I remember playing in the street…making the bases with a piece of broken dry wall which made for dandy chalk

I remember tossing a bat to the other team captain to see who picked first…going hand over hand to see and calling whether bottle caps were legal :wink:

I remember going to the church yard right after breakfast and playing all day except lunch and when we got hollered at to come home for supper

I remember how really wonderful it was to coach a t-ball squad with my eldest son

I remember crying when I had to get the hook off the mound the first time when I was 7 8)

The first time I made a diving catch on a sinking liner

Being made the fool when after stealing 2nd, I was tagged out when I stood up, started dusting myself off…didn’t realize that so and so 2nd baseman kept his glove on me and I stepped the foot I had on 2nd off without calling time ( My nearly 80 yr old dad still gives me crap over that “moment” :shock: )

The first time I saw Field of Dreams"…

Watching how full of joy Ernie Banks was just to play…bouncing the ball on astro-turf at the Astrodome when AstroTurf was a new and exciting technology

Thanks John


#3

I remember my first baseball mitt, a Milt Pappas Wilson…mostly because I still have it.

I remember the briar patch behind the center field fence that often swallowed up our only baseball and dared anyone to try to retrieve it.

I remember how much methiolate hurts when you put it on briar cuts.

I remember playing with a baseball until the stitches bursted, and the leather was worn and loose.

I remember ripping the cover off that baseball and unraveling the miles of string right there on the infield.

I remember being proud of my Mickey Mantle Louisville Slugger even though it had two nails holding the handle together and electrical tape wrapped around it.

I remember that the last day of school we all met at the baseball field.

I remember when my dad would bring ice cold water to the field for us on Saturday…in an old metal milk can with two metal handles on the side and a chain attached to the lid.

I remember the ladle we all used to get drinks with…no cups.

I remember that we all had to climb to the top of the wooden backstop if we wanted any respect.

I remember drinking from the garden hose, anybody’s garden hose.

I remember cardboard for bases and how they slid everywhere.

I remember field maintenance after a rainstorm. Everybody brought something from our dad’s garage.

I remember that we actually had a home plate but that it was pretty much falling apart.

I remember going to my first Pittsburgh Pirates game at Forbes Field, the first concrete and steel stadium ever.

I remember that of all the players I could have wanted to see most, it was Cookie Rojas of the Philadelphia Phillies that got my attention.

I remember catching black rat snakes and taking them out in the middle of the dirt infield where we would "play around’ with them.

I remember my dad organizing the first little league game in our town.

I remember idolizing a friend of the family who was playing Major League Baseball.

I remember that friend attending my father’s funeral, reaching out his hand and saying, “Your dad was a great man.”

I remember inventing a baseball game with Topps cards and tinfoil that we could play indoors on Sunday because we weren’t allowed to do anything outside on Sundays.

I remember scoring many baseball games in one of my dad’s scorebooks while listening to Bob Prince announce a game on KDKA radio.

I remember going to other neighborhoods with a team and playing for the championship.

I remember wearing out a “pitchback” every summer.

I remember going with my dad to a local toy store where he would buy each of us kids a whole box of Topps baseball cards.

I remember the taste, smell and texture of that bubble gum stick in each package.

I remember the back of those cards taught me about statistics.

I REMEMBER ALL THESE THINGS…but I can’t tell you what I had for dinner yesterday.

:twisted:


#4

Those were the days…way back when.

I remember when we used to play stickball, stoopball and other more-or-less rudimentary forms of the game, and I was often in the outfield to serve as a lookout so when I saw a motor vehicle approaching I would yell out “CAR!” and we would all scramble to the sidewalk to wait until the car or cars passed and then resume the game without losing a beat.
I remember when after much pestering and nagging and noodging my dad gave in and took me to my first ball game—a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, which the Yankees won 5-4 and 7-4. I saw Joe DiMaggio belt one into the stands and decided then and there I was in love with that team.
And I will never forget, as long as I live, “The Day of the Slider”—the day I played hooky from school to go see the Yankees beat the Indians 2-1 and then, with some trepidation because I had no idea what to expect, I caught up with Eddie Lopat and told him I just wanted to ask him something about that pitch…and his response: he took me aside and showed me how to throw a good one. September 17, 1951.
And after all these decades I still love the game.