God, Baseball, Freckles and Possibilities

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 09:51 AM.

The day took care of itself.

I remember a fight breaking out between second and third base over something Yogi had said at school two days earlier. We let is go on until it was holding up the game and then some of the older guys stepped in. We sometimes had grudges that would be held over from season to season. That’s when you knew you were probably taking it serious enough. Roger Williams hit a baseball off of me one day in 1964 that is still going up as I write this.

We had a neat field behind the house for a while. Dad put us in a backstop and everything. Aunt Jessie would come out of her house and help us look for foul balls. Ricky Hale pulled a deep fly that bounced off the wooden insert between the glass panes on our kitchen window. I kid you not! He hit that ball three hundred feet and placed it perfectly between 9 panes of glass! A little bit later that day he lined one into right center that hit between a dozen panes in Mrs. Boaz’s bedroom window. Somehow he managed again to break no glass! To this day it was the single best piece of one day hitting I have ever seen! 

Little League gave us coaches, uniforms, organized teams and city championships. We still had to catch and throw it. The game sped up. And not as many fights broke out. I spread my wings to American Legion baseball in Paris, Tennessee. The town was new, the players were named Winchester, Davis, Garnett and Farmer. But the game was astonishingly the same. They put me behind the plate and left me alone. The stories and memories grew.

I showed up in college and found myself beset with the same old fears. I can’t play with these guys! But the game rolled on. A high hard one off the left center field wall is after all, a high hard one off the left center field wall. “Take two and hit to right” is still sound advice in most quarters. We worked some Shakespeare and John Milton in and around road trips to Washington and Lee and Centre College.

I grew up and built baseball lockers in my house. I rolled a ball toward my young sons. They rolled it back and a whole new set of stories evolved.

I was paid at one point to be involved with baseball. I don’t think that added to, or took away, from one thing I understood about the game. I have talked “rolling the top hand” in a baseball swing with the greats and not so greats. I enjoy seeing how a good hitter handles the 3-1 pitch today as much as ever. 

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