The Death Of Another Summer…

02 Jul

I recently watched a great little movie called “The Final Season”, about a High School that succumbed to a merger due to cost savings. This school happened to have a GREAT baseball team, one that won TWENTY state championships. But, in the end, they were dissolved anyway. Kind of a sign of the times for America today, light on tradition and heavy on the bottom line.

The passion and love of the game in these kids took me back to my youth, where my love of baseball began. I didn’t play on that many “organized” teams. My first was the “J.W. Porter’s” a Cleveland Class F team that played at Edgewater Park. We rode our bikes and didn’t mind the 20 minute trip. On the way home, win or lose, we hit the Royal Castle on 105th and Madison for Birch Beer and hamburgers. We played our favorite songs on the counter jukebox and enjoyed our treat for less than a quarter.

I played a lot of wiffle ball during this time as well. We’d use cut down broomstick for bats, much like stickball. The thin stick made it harder to hit fast balls, but the length really helped with those outside curve balls. Unfortunately, by using wood instead of plastic, it didn’t take long until we broke the ball and until we got a dollar together to get a new ball, we went to our old stand-by, “rubber ball against the wall”.

A square representing the strike zone was painted on the wall. We took everything seriously back then. We had leagues and even kept statistics. I was so angry with the Indians for trading my favorite player, Rocky Colavito, I became the Detroit Tigers, the team he was traded to. As I made out my lineup, I had to be conscious of those left handed batters like Norm Cash, because if a lefty came up, I had to bat left handed myself. I never hit often as a lefty, but when I did, I usually crushed it.

Those rubber balls weren’t taken for granted either. At 25 cents each, we all wanted them to last. We “broke in” a ball for a week or so, everyone needed a little pitching practice anyway. When the ball got a little softer, then it would find it’s way into real games. If you used a brand new ball, the first problem was that it FLEW if you hit it hard and in some cases, it would actually split and chunks of fresh rubber would be strewn all over the playground. I often think of those days and wonder happened to my old “league” friends. Did they make the High School team? I tried out twice and failed. I could hit with anyone, but had poor depth perception which was not good for an outfielder. This is why I love baseball so much… because I played it. Not on a computer screen or a gameboy, but outside in the sun, breeze, rain and whatever else Mother Nature threw at us. What a game…

Which brings me to this year. It’s over…. again… Whether the Indians trade C.C. Sabathia or not, the season is over. Injuries and a horrible hitting slump have robbed me and SO many other frustrated Indians fans for yet another year. I enjoy watching the kids, but I cringe at the “seasoned veterans” that management is so convinced they need. My nightly prayer is the same… Please Lord, let me live long enough to see the Indians win the World Series…

1 Comment

Posted by on July 2, 2008 in Chuck's thoughts...


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One response to “The Death Of Another Summer…

  1. John Clough

    July 7, 2008 at 2:27 am

    Right on the money. We played in the parking lot of a nearby church (soon to be closed) and had lines drawn on the pavement. If you hit it over the first line, it was a single, the second line, a double, etc. Good memory…


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