2.18.2010

Baseball Is Back!

Did I mention that I love baseball? I cry every time I watch the ending of Field of Dreams. And I watch it often. When the Stupor Bowl is over it's officially my time of year. Many team's pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training today. The season begins!

As My Town's Roger Craig, (most remembered for managing the SF Giants and also a LA Dodger pitcher and a hapless early Met; their big winner and loser with 26 losses one season, many by one run) says..."Humm baby!", baseball is back.

Like so many kids born in the 50's baseball began with Dad teaching us the game. Then, it was Little League where for me, in my first year, Roger Craig's brother J.T. Craig, had to sit me and ol' Tommy Trent down under a shade tree at the North Durham Elementary "baseball field" at the end of tryouts. It was his job as coach to tell us that we were pretty good as first year Little League players, but not quite good enough.

So, if we were willing to shag bats during the games we could be on the team. We would be able to practice to get better and maybe even play in a game once in a while! There were going to be two Optimist teams that year--Optimists and Optimites-- so there was need for two shaggers. Two friggin' bat boys. We were humiliated but we both agreed (although Tommy doesn't remember the event as I do--he has blocked out being the bat boy).

That was a good first season in organized ball. The two Optimist teams ended up playing for the Durham Little League Championship. My team lost 1-0, even thought our pitcher chunked a one hitter. That's Little League.

This Lucky Dog played for Optimist teams through the second year of Pony League at which time my heart was substantially better than my skill. I missed the last year of LL and the first year of PL with a broken and then re-broken left foot. Upon my return everybody was better 'cept me. And some of the pitchers (like friend David Johnson who was our version of Randy Johnson) could throw heat, scare the hell out of you with a high, tight fastball and then on the next pitch throw a real curve. Put up another K. I just couldn't hit after a two year layoff. I was toast.

That was also about the time that rock music took hold of me and my love for baseball was temporarily put on hold. You just can't be a rock 'n roll drummer in the coolest kid band in Durham and also be a clean cut, crew cut ball player. Plus, as I said, I couldn't hit.

Fond memories and love for the game stayed with me, albeit hid in my psyche, for years. Through high school it was all drums all the time and for a year with a great blue-eyed soul and beach music band called The Four Winds & Band... lead singer and three brass players/backup singers (The Four Winds), along with guitarist, a honkin' Hammond B3 organ and me on drums ("and Band"). More on that sometime, and see the post on MLK.

College brought a little comeback to my following of the sport of baseball, as we had a pretty good team. The bleachers in spring were as good a place as any to swill beer out of a plastic cup.

Those college years and after graduation coincided with what I call The Polyester Years of baseball. The uniforms were ugly and garishly-colored polyester. Remember the Padres orange and brown uniforms or the Astros' horizontal color stripes or the Phillies' light blue road duds, their all-red uniforms and the Pirates' pill box baseball hats? God awful.

And the hair...sticking out from under those baseball hats everywhere. It was a good time to be semi comatose about the sport, although there certainly was some great talent and teams during that period.

Next Post: Baseball Is Back Part II
Coming home & The Durham Bulls
The gift of a baseball card stirs the juices
Baseball as Family Glue
Durham International Starball

2 comments:

  1. Our family motto is "the first day of baseball is better than the last day of football, or hockey, or basketball, or...."

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  2. Around here baseball is like Christmas every day. Gift, after gift after gift. All the way to October.

    Toad, have you visited my other blog devoted to baseball? Find a link at the bottom of ALDL pages.

    Thanks for visiting an for your comment.
    LD

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